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We live in an always-on, socially connected society.

Which is a great thing, until the diner next to you at lunch can't resist live-tweeting photos of every single dish that hits the table, and your dining companion can't seem to stop checking his LinkedIn feed for status updates.

Sure, meals are inherently social occasions, but the point is to pay attention to the people at your table, not your friends on Facebook. Here are five important tips for polite social networking, online and off.

  • Pick Up the Phone Social media has made the task of keeping in touch with friends easier than ever, but when it comes to determining a mutually agreeable date for a business lunch or dinner, it pays to pick up the phone. A five-minute call is far more efficient than an endless chain of emails and will end up saving you and your dining companion valuable time.
  • Do Your Research Social media offers incredible opportunities for learning more about your client in advance of your meal. Explore his or her online profiles and note mutual interests that might come in handy when making small talk, but be tactful though about how you broach these subjects so as not to inadvertently cross the line between public and private. "I selected this wine after seeing your tweet on how much you like Australian Syrah" sounds a bit overeager.
  • Always Carry Cards Before you leave the office for a business meal, make sure you've stashed a few extra business cards in your wallet or jacket pocket. Even in this tech-reliant age, presenting a handsome business card to your client at the end of a meal leaves a more elegant impression than a friend request ever will.
  • See Something, Say Something If during a business meal you spot another client or colleague across the room, it's all right to find a convenient opportunity to excuse yourself and say hello to him or her. But keep your visit brief: The goal of your meal is to spend quality time with your dining companion. Should you bump into an acquaintance while with your companion at the bar, be sure to promptly introduce the two of them. No one likes to play third wheel while you and your acquaintance play catch up.
  • Picture Imperfect Some folks seem to believe that photo-blogging their meals on Twitter and Instagram has become socially acceptable, but it's never polite to photograph your entrée while your dining companion waits. Remember when your parents told you: Don't play with your food.