You only need 20 seconds. That’s all it takes for people to connect with you through eye contact, to engage with you, deem you trustworthy and decide you’re worth getting to know.

So stop staring at your phone and pay attention to the people around you.

Unfortunately, it’s become acceptable in some circles to answer the phone or check sports scores during dinner. It’s called FOMO, “fear of missing out.”

However, when you have your eyes glued to a device—keeping up with what’s going on “out there”—you miss out on the people right in front of you: your loved ones, colleagues, customers and prospects.

Look at me or lose out. A recent Wall Street Journal article, “Just Look Me in the Eye Already,” explored the decreased eye contact in our tech-driven society.

“Eye contact can be a tool for influencing others. Looking at a colleague when speaking conveys confidence and respect. Prolonged eye contact during a debate or disagreement can signal you’re standing your ground. It also points to your place on the food chain: People who are high-status tend to look longer at people they’re talking to, compared with others.”

The eye of the beholder. A smile lights up your eyes. It’s an invitation for others to interact with you. Remain glued to your devices, and you risk losing your mojo. Whether you’re with customers, friends or family members, there’s nothing more important than being present for them.

So disconnect from your phone and connect with the people who really matter.

Sign up for The Lead and get a new tip in your inbox every day! More tips:

Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader, and author of ‘No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust” from Warner Business Books. Visit www.nomorecoldcalling.com. © Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.