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Business etiquette

Business etiquette

Relationships & Communication

. Italians prefer to do business with people they know and trust.
. A third party introduction will go a long way in providing an initial platform from which to work.
. Italians much prefer face-to-face contact, so it is important to spend time in Italy developing the relationship.
. Your business colleagues will be eager to know something about you as a person before conducting business with you.
. Demeanour is important as Italians judge people on appearances and the first impression you make will be a lasting one.
. Italians are intuitive. Therefore, make an effort to ensure that your Italians colleagues like and trust you.
. Networking can be an almost full-time occupation in Italy. Personal contacts allow people to get ahead.
. Take the time to ask questions about your business colleagues family and personal interests, as this helps build the relationship
. Italians are extremely expressive communicators. They tend to be wordy, eloquent, emotional, and demonstrative, often using facial and hand gestures to prove their point.

Business Meeting Etiquette

. Appointments are mandatory and should be made in writing (in Italian) 2 to 3 weeks in advance.
. Reconfirm the meeting by telephone or fax (again in Italian).
. Many companies are closed in August, and if they are open many Italians take vacations at this time, so it is best not to try to schedule meetings then.
. In the north, punctuality is viewed as a virtue and your business associates will most likely be on time.
. The goal of the initial meeting is to develop a sense of respect and trust with your Italian business colleagues.
. Have all your printed material available in both English and Italian.
. Hire an interpreter if you are not fluent in Italian.
. It is common to be interrupted while speaking or for several people to speak at once.
. People often raise their voice to be heard over other speakers, not because they are angry.
. Although written agendas are frequently provided, they may not be followed. They serve as a jumping off point for further discussions.
. Decisions are not reached in meetings. Meetings are meant for a free flow of ideas and to let everyone have their say.

Business Negotiation

. In the north, people are direct, see time as money, and get down to business after only a brief period of social talk.
. In the south, people take a more leisurely approach to life and want to get to know the people with whom they do business.
. Allow your Italian business colleagues to set the pace for your negotiations. Follow their lead as to when it is appropriate to move from social to business discussions.
. Italians prefer to do business with high-ranking people.
. Hierarchy is the cornerstone of Italian business. Italians respect power and age.
. Negotiations are often protracted.
. Never use high-pressure sales tactics.
. Always adhere to your verbal agreements. Failing to follow through on a commitment will destroy a business relationship.
. Heated debates and arguments often erupt in meetings. This is simply a function of the free-flow of ideas.
. Haggling over price and delivery date is common.
. Decisions are often based more on how you are viewed by the other party than on concrete business objectives.

Dress Etiquette

. Dressing well is a priority in Italy.
. Men should wear dark coloured, conservative business suits.
. Women should wear either business suits or conservative dresses.
. Elegant accessories are equally important for men and women.

Business Cards

. Business cards are exchanged after the formal introduction.
. To demonstrate proper respect for the other person, look closely at their business card before putting it in your card holder.
. It is a good idea to have one side of your business card translated into Italian.
. If you have a graduate degree, include it on your business card.
. Make sure your title is on your card. Italians like knowing how you fit within your organization.