A view of the “Tradeshow Trends: New Revenues” session at PMCA Convening Leaders.

Yesterday, during day one of PCMA Convening Leaders in Las Vegas, I experienced one of those moments of serendipity that social-media boosters mean when they talk about social networks increasing connectivity and community, rather than the other way around.

“If everyone always has their noses buried in the phones,” naysayers say, “how is anyone ever supposed to meet someone new?”

I was attending a session called “Tradeshow Trends: New Revenues.” I would say I’m a mild user of Twitter — I tweet when I’m at conferences, and whenever I see or think of something that I think my friends might find interesting or funny.

This session started off a bit contentious, with some polite sparring amongst the panel members regarding general-contractor rates, and how these can be shockingly large — as well as non-negotiable by the exhibitor.

“Part of this procurement model is totally broken,” said Medtronic’s Sue Huff. “I don’t have control over material rates. These are set between the organizer and the contractor.”

General-contractor representative Richard Maples, with Shepard Exposition Services, defended the efforts his colleagues have made to cut these rates — and members of the audience got in on the act, too, coming to the microphones to voice their concerns.

At any rate, I wanted to see what those audience members who were not bold enough to step to the mic were thinking about what was going on — so I checked Twitter, searcing for the #pcma11 hashtag.

Earlier in the session, the moderator B.J. Enright, president of Tradeshow Logic, had asked a question of the audience. One fellow behind me hesitated to raise his hand, and then did, saying “Depends” to the woman sitting next to him.

Well, as I was scrolling through the conversation occurring around #pcma11 on Twitter on my BlackBerry, I happened to notice a few tweets from @JimLouis. Louis’ tweets had a picture associated with them — which I recognized as the audience respondent I’d noticed earlier!

After the session, I went up to Louis and introduced myself. We exchanged business cards, and I found out that he is a founder of the popular meetings-industry message board MeCo!

We had a very interesting conversation about Twitter — Louis was an early enough adopter that he managed to get his very simple @JimLouis username — as well as how MeCo got started … which I later pitched to my bosses as a possible story idea.

And it was all because I was tweeting during a session. Just goes to (trade) show.

My new friend Jim Louis.

Hunter R. Slaton

Contributing Editor Hunter R. Slaton is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn.