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How to Follow Proper Business Etiquette in Italy

Doing business across the globe means finding out what people in other countries think is appropriate or inappropriate. Businesspeople in Italy, just like any other country, have their own code of conduct.


  • Step 1: Make small talk at the beginning of meetings before you get down to business.
  • Step 2: Don't back off if you feel like the Italian businesspeople are too close. Italians stand closer to each other than Americans do, and a touch on the arm or pat on the back is not out of the ordinary. Don't shy away in this situation -- or in your negotiations.
  • FACT: Italy is one of the five largest industrialized economies in the world.
  • Step 3: Give gifts if you want to, but make sure the gift is something very nice that does not have your company's logo on it.
  • TIP: Don't be surprised if after several meetings your Italian counterparts embrace you rather than shake hands.
  • TIP: Write the letter in Italian to make sure it'll be received and understood.
  • Step 4: Dress to impress. Men should wear suits and women should always have their makeup and hair done. Italians love fashion and dress sharply, as a rule.
  • Step 5: Shake hands, both at the beginning and at the end of the meeting.
  • Step 6: Write a formal letter to ask for a first meeting, and follow it with a phone call, e-mail, or fax.

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