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Mind Over Manners

What you need to know to make a great impression at your next business meal

By Nichole L. Torres

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Do your palms sweat when you think about hosting a businessmeal? Do you shrink in terror at the idea of holding the rightfork? Do you know what the proper seating arrangements are? With somany rules to keep straight, we went to Dana May Casperson,business etiquette expert and author of Power Etiquette: WhatYou Don't Know Can Kill Your Career (Amacom), for practicaltips to help you clear your worries clean off the table.

Before you even get to the restaurant, advises Casperson, have afew topics of conversation ready. An interesting tidbit aboutyourself can be a great opener, for example. "Plan somequestions you can ask, because people like to talk aboutthemselves," she says. Because it's improper to talkbusiness until after the entrée dishes are cleared, make sureyou're ready to discuss current events, good movies, businessbooks and the like before and during the meal.

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