Catching up with friends with your little one tagging along is never easy. Especially when she's at an active age and there's nothing interesting for her to do at the table. The only time it is easy is when she's asleep. Then you can chat and catch up in peace. Otherwise, you have to divide your attention between your friend/s and your child/ren.
How do I handle it? Well, I would usually warn my friends beforehand that I am still listening to her even if I seem distracted with my child. Of course giving the appropriate responses does confirm that you are still involved in the conversation. But it also helps to have my husband around to distract the little girl. I try to bring some distractions along, like her colouring book, or toys, but sometimes it doesn't work because she wants mummy to play with her too. Sometimes I try to suggest to friends to get-together at a kids friendly restaurant/cafe. It's much easier if there's a play area so that she is distracted and have a good time herself.
Of course I don't always bring her along especially when I'm not in the mood to multi-task or when I'm at a non-child friendly place.