Don't wipe your nose, no doggy bags, other advice in part 2 of Michelle Powell's business-dining etiquette tips

Your business image should always convey one of poise, polish and grace. In no other place is this more readily seen (or not) than during a meal. A lack of polish is displayed when you salt your food before tasting it, complain or have too many instructions with your order, rush through a meal and have to wait on others, make a big deal out of paying the check, or expose others to your bad table manners. Equally as unprofessional and unrefined is to be the host of the meal and leave your guests hanging, not knowing what is acceptable to order and so on. I heard someone comment once, “I like that guy, but I’ll never eat with him again!”
Consider these business dining do’s and don’ts (though not all inclusive) so as not to alienate yourself from others who might otherwise hold you in high regard.
Don’t bring the office. Leave the laptop, large brochures and portfolio packets at the office. Trying to make a presentation at a restaurant can be awkward. Doing so can also draw attention to your conversation by other diners and will create difficulty for the waiter when bringing food out. It would be just as bad to continue to occupy the table after the meal has concluded to make your presentation, as you may draw glares from waiters who are ready to seat other patrons. Only offer materials at the very end of the meal presented in a regular-sized mailing envelope that can fit neatly into the pocket of a suit jacket or a purse.
Do maintain proper formality. As with all other business meetings, handshakes should be exchanged before being seated. If someone arrives later, make your best effort to stand for the greeting. When first approaching the table, remain standing behind your chair until the host sits. Likewise, take your napkin into your lap only after the host has done so. Everyone seats themselves regardless of gender. In business etiquette the sexes are equal; therefore, there is no need for a man to pull a woman’s chair or to automatically pay for the meal. If everyone is still using last names, now is not the time to dispel this formality unless clearly invited to do so by the highest-ranking person at the table.
Do keep pace with others. Wait until your entire party has arrived before beginning any part of the meal. An exception would be when you know ahead of time that someone will be late and has suggested you order an appetizer while waiting. But don’t plan to take home a doggy bag if you aren’t able to complete your meal. This is a no-no in business etiquette.
It often happens that one person eats too fast while listening and another eats very slowly while doing most of the talking. Cutting all of your food at once is not only a faux pas, but causes you to eat faster. Take your time, cut one piece at a time and keep pace with your dining partners. This also means ordering the same number of courses. The host should know to express his or her generosity by suggesting menu items so that guests have an idea what they can order. “The stuffed mushrooms are a great appetizer, which I usually follow with a pasta dish. But save room for dessert. They have a great tiramisu.” The table should always be balanced. Never let someone eat alone.
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By Michelle Powell CEO of Professional Manner April 7, 2014

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