Is the first second of your encounter killing your business? It could be. Your appearance says so much about you that we rarely can get past a bad first impression. And that first impression could be happening in as little as one second. It could be as simple as a less than enthusiastic look to as complicated as wearing clothes that are not congruent with your line of work. Here are five tips to ensure that you have the one-second edge in business.

1. Smile. Virtually every situation can be overcome with a smile. Smiles are contagious. When you smile people will smile back, and people who smile are more likely to be liked.

2. Dress slightly better than your customers unless you are in certain service industries (we will discuss that one next). Your customers want to do business with people who are professional and appear to be successful. It troubles me every time I meet financial planners who come to business meetings dressed in casual attire. I want to be able to picture my financial planner as successful. In our society successful people dress well.

3. If you are in a service industry dress the part. One of the most successful people I have met recently is a painter who attends networking events in paint-splattered clothes. I can see him as a painter.

4. Avoid radical hairstyles, make-up and jewelry. Men with ponytails and women with pink hair have more trouble being taken seriously by business people. The same holds true for excessive piercings, make-up and tattoos. You may not like to conform but the truth is people want to do business with people they think are like them. There are more clean cut men than men with ponytails and there are more women with blonde, brunette and black hair than there are with pink. And while piercings and tattoos are stylish, they are rare in the business world.

5. Take care of yourself. Consume a healthy diet, get plenty of rest and avoid extremes. You are free to choose your lifestyle but do your best to look your best at all times. There are potential areas of improvement in all our lives. When we are engaged in eliminating vices or health risks we have a natural confidence and self esteem boost that people can see. When meeting people you must be aware of your appearance. Everyone can strive to look their best at all times and when we do we will have a confidence that people can see. That will give you the one-second edge in business.