Let's face it: we meet people every day. Therefore it is important to present a good image and dress appropriately, especially in business situations.

Studies have shown that first impressions are made in the first 10 to 30 seconds of visual contact, and 55 per cent of that first impression is credited to appearance. Thus projecting a professional image will enhance your prospects in any sales situation.

Here are three ways to enhance your professional image:

Get the dress code right

In every business and work situation, adhering to the accepted dress code is equivalent to giving your boss, your colleague, your prospect or your client the respect he deserves.

It is important for you to look the part, that is, your image must be aligned with the kind of business image you want to project. Generally, there are about five dress codes in the business arena you need to be aware of: smart casual, business casual, business formal, black tie and white tie.

Find out what the dress code is for each business event you attend, dress accordingly and you can make a great first impression.

Choose flattering styles and colours

Choose clothing in colours that suit your skin tone and in styles that flatter your body shape rather than what is fashionable at the moment. When in doubt, opt for classic styles and avoid loud colours or patterns. Aim for elegance to enhance your professional image.

Is your skin tone warm or cool? Wearing colours that suit you can make you appear more attractive and give your skin a healthy glow. Generally speaking, you have a warm skin undertone if you look better in orange- or gold-coloured clothing. If you look better in pink or silver, you probably belong to the cool skin-toned category.

In a nutshell, warm skin-toned people look better in colours with a yellow base; cool skin-toned people are more suited to colours with a blue base.

Wearing clothes that enhance your body shape can minimise flaws and make you feel more confident. Using my Body Shape theory as a guide, are are you an “O”, “A”, “I”, “H”, “Y”, “T” or “X”?

 “Y” is the ideal shape for men, “X” for women. Thus, a rule of thumb will be to select clothing that moves you closer to the desired ideal shape.

Maintain a high standard of personal grooming and hygiene

It is difficult to carry on a conversation with someone who, though well-dressed and poised, has bad breath or body odour. So if you want your professional image to carry through, you should also ensure that your grooming and personal hygiene standards are impeccable.

Using mouth rinses and fresh-breath mints (especially after meals), deodorants and fragrances are just some ways you can ensure you are nice to be around and to talk to.

In addition, men should aim for an oil-free, well-shaved face (leave the designer stubble for weekends). Women should apply light makeup for a finished look — just a little does wonders.

Finally, to look your professional best, invest in a flattering hairstyle. Paying a bit more for a good cut is worth it if you look great from head to toe.

An immaculate professional image will not guarantee a sealed deal, but it does earn you a great first impression. This will inevitably open more doors for you.

Besides, when you feel confident, you are more likely to establish a better rapport with your clients who will, in turn, be more willing to listen to what you have to offer at every meeting. So, work on achieving a professional image that will give you a competitive edge.

Article by Joshua Luke, an award-winning trainer and personal branding specialist with Richard Gavriel Speaker Management. He regularly conducts training in image presentation, social etiquette and more. To contact him, e-mail Richard@RichardGavriel.com