Meeting and greeting successfully—Italy
In Italian, the expression bella figura refers to the ability to present yourself and behave formally. This skill is very important in business, meaning that your appearance and that of all the documents you present should be aesthetically pleasing. Pay great attention to detail when you prepare materials to share with your Italian colleagues. Your business cards should be well made, in both Italian and your home language. A solid, professional appearance is vital.
A safe bet is to dress elegantly, choosing Italian suits and jackets. For men, pinstripe shirts paired with Italian designer ties are appropriate for most occasions. Avoid wearing baggy or casual pants, or open-toed shoes. Women should remain simple, yet elegant in their wardrobe. Aim for the best-quality fabrics.
Italy remains a country with a complicated hierarchy in all internal decisions. With a relatively high Uncertainty Avoidance and a low level of Power Distance, the country strives to minimize uncertain situations with numerous laws and regulations. However, the low Power Distance signals that the culture does not expect power to be distributed unequally. This means that you should expect a complicated hierarchy to be present, with decisions taking a long time. At the same time, developing solid business relationships can help you ease into this environment.
Note that when scheduling meetings, the best time is around ten or eleven in the morning or around three in the afternoon. To plan a meeting, start by writing to the participants in Italian, and follow up with a phone call and e-mail in the language you plan to use to communicate. August is the month of rest, and many employees take time off work for the holidays, as is the case in many other countries in Europe. You should avoid scheduling too many appointments or meetings in this month.