Networking etiquette in Milan
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Updated 8 months ago

Understanding the Italian business culture is a demanding task for those who are not familiar with its tradition. However, it is the key to full acceptance in the entrepreneurial world and to enjoyable working. Here is what you need to know about the Milanese networking etiquette.

Having basic manners and cultural knowledge can improve the chances of connecting in the Milanese world. The city's multicultural environment hosts plenty of foreign professionals and companies, and this means that international standards apply. However, the heart of Milan is always Italian, and without proper knowledge of the language and the customs, one might not be able to adapt. Also, a good understanding of the city and the events happening around it can be helpful to manage to keep in track with the latest trends. Milan is among all a place where culture surpasses business, and the two go together hand in hand. The following are some important aspects to consider.

Politeness

Being polite is an obvious rule everywhere, especially in the business world. However, Italians perceive politeness in a special way and give more attention to respect rather than stiffness. This means that some dose of informality, joking and stories are allowed and appreciated. Long working hours create a sense of closeness, and so do after work events that do not impose the necessity of being serious. Italians often tend to get personal when discussing work, but this must never be exaggerated. Efficiency is always the most respected and needed trait that no amount of politeness can substitute.

Punctuality

Contrary to the popular opinion, punctuality is a big thing in Milan. Managing to arrive on time (even with the Milanese traffic), is a sign of respect. Only exceptions for this rule are the days of strike of the public transport, which make all movement more difficult. Alongside with being punctual comes consistency. It is essential to be careful to promises and what is said should always be done.

Dressing up

Classy-but elegant is appreciated in Milan. The workplaces are generally open to uniqueness (such as tattoos, earrings, or specific hairstyles), as long as it is done with taste and not too aggressive. Shoes are an important asset and can reflect cleanliness and even confidence. Styles depend on the sector that one works for, but some important events like interviews, fairs, or meetings require formal attire.

Sustainability

Corporate social responsibility is a big thing in Italy. Now, more than ever, with the latest environmental issues, whole Europe is taking steps towards more responsible businesses. This is even more alarming for the country, as it needs to protect its variety of natural resources. The main changes come from the most developed cities like Milan and are an essential topic of life today. This can be seen by behaviours within a company and personal choices among individuals. Caring for the environment and using more sustainable options is an excellent step towards the aspirations of a sustainable city, and towards creating healthy business ideas.

Friendship

Italians are friendly people but do not open up easily. This is why friendships among coworkers should come naturally and without rush or pretentions. To be invited for dinner at one's home or to meet one's family is a sign of a good friendship and respect. These relationships go beyond workplaces and are ones that last forever. Italians are generous and open, and when invited to their house they will wholeheartedly offer their best. A good gesture in that situation is to bring some drink like a good Wine, Grappa or Limoncello to add up to the atmosphere.

Religion

Religion is still a big thing in Italy, even though it has lost its value over the years. Milan is a modern city, where the question of religions is not a taboo but is not an important topic or something that needs to be discussed. Except for the elderly, the general Catholic principles are rarely followed.

Modern manners

Milan is a modern city, in which almost every corner works on mobile applications. This is why it is not unusual to see people always with their mobile phones, talking loudly (or on their earphones), or even sending vocal messages to each other. Italian culture is very expressive and doesn't mind finding as many alternatives possible to share words. Smoking is another vice, that, even though forbidden in bars remains popular. People like to roll tobacco cigarettes and sit and smoke on the terraces, even on cold weather.

To enter the networking world as a foreigner in Milan might seem difficult at first. It takes some time to find the right work environment and the right opportunities to discuss business. Italians are pleasant people, and their culture allows work and leisure sometimes simultaneously. This is luckily a good combination of easy familiarizing with any environment.

Useful links:

Business Culture ' Italy
Business Culture ' Etiquette in Italy

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