First impressions are very important in the Italian business world, so it’s advisable to have some basic knowledge of best practices when meeting with potential colleagues.
- Men typically wear dark colored suits in business settings, and women either business suits or conservative dresses. Your attire can often be perceived as a reflection of your social standing and relative success.
- Punctuality is expected in various regions and is somewhat lax in others. It is just common sense and best practice to always be punctual to meetings out of respect for your host(s) or colleague(s).
- You are expected to address Italian executives as Signore or Signora plus their surname. Use last names and appropriate titles until specifically invited by your Italian host or colleague to use his or her first name.
- It is proper to say buongiorno (good morning) and buonasera (good evening) upon greeting and departure.
- In both introductions and departures, it is customary to shake hands individually with everyone in a group.
The exchange of business cards in Italy is commonplace and you should have it translated into Italian on the reverse side. Be sure to include any advanced educational degrees and your full title on both sides as well. As a sign of respect, always look closely at any received business card before putting it in your wallet or briefcase.
Typical hours of operation for large business are Monday through Friday, 8:30am or 9:00am until 6:00pm or 6:30pm with one or two hours for lunch.
It is important to know that many companies are closed in the month of August, partially due to temperatures being at their hottest in most of the country. Even if they are open, many Italians take their month-long holidays (called ferie) during this month, so it is best not to schedule meetings. Additionally, it may be wise to avoid organizing meetings during periods of Catholic festivities, given the religious culture of the country.
Keep in mind that initial business meetings in Italy are more about developing a personal relationship with your potential colleague and developing a mutual trust and respect.
AFFITARE vs NOLEGGIARE
The Italian verb affitare (to rent) can be used in most circumstances, but is more commonly utilized when renting real estate (houses, apartments).
The previously learned noleggiare (also meaning “to rent”) is often used when renting movable property (cars, motorcycles, bikes, boats), as well as various media (video games, movies).
TIP: The Italian noun for ‘rent’ is affito, or ‘monthly rent’ is affito mensile, while ‘tentant’ is inquilino or inquilina (depending on the gender of the tenant).