Making Friends & Networking in Italy
One of the hardest parts of moving to Rome for me back in 1988 was not having any friends initially. A valuable lesson that I learnt was not to become friends with someone just because you share a common language — this can be very tempting, especially if you are feeling isolated, and you don’t speak the local language well enough to make friends with the locals.
When you only have a language in common with another person, these so-called friendships can become very draining, and even toxic, if you don’t share the same values, political views, or life mindsets.
For this reason, unless you are moving Italy already with an advanced level of Italian, please take the time to study at least 90–120 hours of Italian before you arrive — this will give you a lot of choices when it comes to friendships, as well as your ability to move more freely within the culture.
While it’s nice to hang out with other foreigners at expat events, especially those who speak your language, just make sure that they are positive about their lives in Italy. You simply do not have the luxury to hang out with expats who are constantly hating on Italy and Italians. They will sap your energy and chip away at your enthusiasm for why you moved to Italy. I cannot stress enough how you must leave these individuals alone. Just like you must avoid the moaners, don’t overly focus on the negatives in Italy.
As the old saying goes, any road will get you there, if you don’t know where you’re going. Get a plan and really focus on what you want to achieve in Italy both personally and professionally. Seek out friends and professional contacts that will support your dreams, goals, and objectives.
I jumped in at the deep end when I moved to Italy in 1988, and looking back now, I can honestly say that I wish I had known much more than I did before I got here. I wish I had known back then how important it was to surround yourself with the right people, and how this would influence how you saw your life in Italy — either as going somewhere or not going anywhere at all.
They say that 95% of where you go in life depends on who you know! If this is true, then get out and do some serious networking. I have enjoyed many expat get-togethers, but to be honest, the most important contacts I have made in Italy for my business have been at 100% Italian events. Make sure you have great looking business cards when you go, and most of all, follow up with the Italians you meet!
The DIY approach to relocating to Italy can sometimes be fraught with problems and challenges — I have sat with grown adults sobbing due to their “workarounds” of the Italian fiscal or immigration system. Make sure, especially if you plan on living in Italy fulltime, that you network with people that can introduce you to savvy professionals like accountants and lawyers.
If you are thinking of relocating to Italy, don’t forget to grab a copy of my mini eBook ’50 Tips on Relocating to Italy’ — click here to purchase.
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