6 Practical Tips For Doing Business With Italian Companies

By Su Guillory

Our world is getting smaller and smaller. Thanks to technology like video conferencing software, email, and instant messaging, you can now do business anywhere in the world. If you’re considering Italy for your next target demographic, take a few tips from an American living in Italy on how to conduct business with the land of dolce vita.

6 tips on doing business with Italians

1. Understand that Italians aren’t transactional by nature

Americans tend to have a very to-the-point style when it comes to doing business. We don’t like wasting time or money, so we tend to be direct in business meetings.

Italians…not so much. In a country where drinking a shot of espresso can stretch out over hours when two people start chatting, understand that relationships, not transactions, matter here.

That means you’re going to have to cool your heels a bit. Engage in a little personal banter. Listen to their stories about how their nonna used to handmake pasta every Sunday. If you’re into soccer, bonus points, because if there’s one thing Italians love to talk about (nearly as much as what they eat), it’s soccer.

If you’re planning a business trip to Italy, add in a few extra days. You won’t be flying into Milan, pitching your product, then signing a contract the same day. It may take several days to even talk about business, and even then, you may fly home empty-handed. Accept this as part of the culture.

Look at it like this: if you’re married, you didn’t propose on the first date. You wanted to get to know this person and assess whether he or she would make a good long-term partner. Italians feel the same about business.

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