If you believe you can translate scents into cents, think again.

Too much of a good thing can be harmful, according to Carey McBeth, a business professionalism and etiquette specialist based in Vancouver. That’s especially true if that good thing is cologne or perfume.

“[Fragrance] is a big issue for advisors,” McBeth says. “You don’t want your clients or prospects to become distracted by your scent and be uncomfortable with you.”

You might think your fragrance adds a spritz of the debonair. Your clients might disagree.

McBeth offers a few suggestions on how to avoid making a negative olfactory impact with your clients:

> Less is more
Be aware that more people are experiencing high sensitivities to scents — because of allergies or other causes. So you should take extra care to avoid wearing a product that may touch off a reaction with a client or a prospect.

“It can quickly leave a negative [impression] about you in your prospect’s mind,” McBeth says. “You don’t want to be that person that people don’t want to be around.”

> Ask a friend
If you have been using a particular scent for a long time, you slowly become immune to it. As a result, you might feel the need to wear more.

Resist that urge, says McBeth: “Keep everything minimal.”

If you aren’t sure whether you have crossed that imaginary olfactory line, ask a friend or someone you trust.

You would hate to learn that you are the source of a negative reaction, such as headaches, dizziness or, worse, heart palpitations.

> Consider a ban
Many corporations are following the lead of hospitals and doctors’ offices by designating scent-free environments.

Before making any rash decisions, McBeth says, consult your firm’s management about their scent policy, and on ways of approaching the topic.

The subject of going scent-free must be broached with sensitivity in order to avoid insulting your clients, your prospects and your team.

> Set the right tone
Consider your use of personal fragrances as part of the overall client experience, says McBeth. Look beyond your colognes or perfumes, she says, and consider the scents of other cosmetic products you use, such as shampoos, hair styling products or body sprays.

Keep your approach professional and remain trustworthy. There are more effective ways of presenting yourself as a refined advisor — by dressing well, for example, and keeping a tidy, well-organized office.