If you’re going to be moving to Italy you need to know how the Italians work and how you should be working and doing business when living in Italy as an expatriate, because to get on and get ahead in any nation in any profession it is important to understand business etiquette.
Italy is certainly a country where you will be expected to have a good working knowledge of the language even if you’re going to be working for an international firm. Your Italian counterparts and colleagues will simply not respect you fully if you do not. Aside from this top tip there are many more things you should know which we will cover in this article.
First things first learn and understand the phrase ‘bella figura’ – it means making a good first impression and this is where you need to begin when working and doing business when living in Italy. You need to look the part, dress to impress, take care and attention with your appearance and know that yes, appearance matters a great deal in Italy. You will not be taken seriously if you do not dress to match your professional status. This may sound far fetched to some and ridiculous to others reading this article – but fail to heed this advice at your own peril!
The next thing you need to know is that in Italy it is very much a case of it’s not just what you know, it’s who you know. You need to work hard to establish, nurture and develop ties and associations with useful and connected people if you are to get ahead at work or in business. You will need to network and you will need to do it discretely and patiently. It will pay off in the end! Remember to use professional titles for people at all times – i.e., of someone is a doctor or a professor you should address them as such.
Do not necessarily do as the Italians do – where they may arrive late, argue their point or just argue at a meeting, you will get far further if you are punctual, respect authority, hierarchy and the rules and do not attempt to push or oversell yourself or your ideas. The American way of shouting in your face over the top sales pitches really do not work well in Italy!
Finally, good manners, a respect for colleagues, peers, authority and associates and acquaintances you meet and deal with whether occasionally or on a day to day basis will take you a very long way when living, working and doing business in Italy.