They have captured the imaginations of poets from William Shakespeare to Ralph Waldo Emerson. And many before and since have called them the “windows into the soul.” Billie Holiday sang about “Them There Eyes” in 1939. And Canadian rockers The Guess Who recorded the timeless hit “These Eyes” in 1968.

While poets and artists have long pondered the profundity of the human eye, it’s a topic you should pay close attention to as a financial advisor, says Carey McBeth, a business professionalism and etiquette specialist based in Vancouver.

“The importance of eye contact is critical in business,” McBeth says, “especially when you are trying to meet new people and build trusting relationships.”

Without good eye contact, McBeth says, you are sending off poor body language. A lack of eye contact can indicate that you are not confident or are uninterested in what a client is saying.

McBeth offers some tips on how to succeed — with your eyes:

> Make your client “the one”
Good politicians often use eye contact to establish an immediate rapport. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, for example, is known for seldom allowing his eyes to wander when meeting new people, which many say has made them feel as if they were “the only person in the room.”

Make eye contact with your client or prospect from the beginning — starting with that first handshake. Then, as a rule of thumb, McBeth says, maintain full eye contact with your client about 40%-60% of the time. Be sure to avoid staring, she says, because that can make others feel uncomfortable.

> Listen with your eyes

The frequent checking of mobile devices has seemingly become normal social behaviour. But proper etiquette, McBeth says, dictates that you forget about your phone when you meet with a client. In fact, don’t even keep it in the same room.

“Give 100% of your attention to the person you are speaking with,” McBeth says. “Many forget that good listening also involves your eyes, not just your ears. It is almost a lost quality, but it is amazing how it can make clients feel. And it won’t cost you a cent to build that trust.”

> Understand cultural differences
Perhaps you have some clients who don’t respond to your undivided ocular attention.

That doesn’t mean that the client is necessarily uninterested. The disconnect could be a result of cultural differences.

For example, in many Eastern cultures, eye contact is not as common as it is in the West. Keep that in mind, McBeth says, particularly if you work in a large city and have a diverse client base.

> Observe the signs
Watch your client for subtle signals. For example, dilating pupils or a hint of a smile around the eyes, McBeth says, can be an involuntary sign of heightened interest or excitement.

By contrast, contracting pupils may mean the client is bored or uninterested.

“Pay attention to their eyes as well as yours,” McBeth says. “It’s becoming a lost art, but it’s still the cheapest way to build a good relationship.”