When you are attending a business dinner (or some other business-related social function) with your customers and colleagues, you have an opportunity to improve or degrade the opinion others have of you. Only a foolish person would ignore this fact.

Here are a few recommendations, all based on very recent observations:

1. Do not drink too much. It doesn’t make you nearly as likeable as you think it does.

2. Don’t talk too much about yourself. Spend most of your time asking questions of and listening to others — especially those you want to impress.

3. Be positive.

4. When introducing people, always say something complimentary about them.

5. When seating yourself and your date at a large table, be sure to observe the boy-girl seating tradition. That means seating your partner next to someone of the opposite sex. If you fail to do so, you cause a bit of a problem not only for the people you are next to but also for another couple that will come later.

6. Don’’t look as if you are in pain, even if you are.

7. Don’’t discuss politics or religion.

8. Don’’t talk about your problems.

9. Address each person at the table at least once during the meal.

It all boils down to this: You are at that business dinner to further your business interests. Treat it with the same seriousness as you do your business.