information for global expats

Business Groups, Associations and Networking for Expats in Italy

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: April 2015

Networking is, if anything, an even more important element in Italian business culture than it is in other countries. There are numerous networking groups, clubs and professional associations dedicated to business and individual professions. You can find out more about them in Italian business magazines and journals, including that of the local chamber of commerce, and on websites such as that of the Italian Trade Agency (ICE).

Typically, you will have to sign up to the business group to become a member and pay an annual membership fee. In return, you will gain access to the group's networking events, publications, online resources and consultation services. There is detailed information on how to become a member, along with various types of membership and the respective fees on the group’s website. Most of these groups have regional and local branches.

Among the major business groups and networks are:

  • CNA (Italian only) (National Confederation of Artisans and SMEs) – supports small and medium enterprises, chiefly in the manufacturing, construction, services, transport and trade and tourism sectors.
  • CONFAPI (Italian only) (Confederation of Small and Medium Enterprises) – chiefly represents manufacturing companies, with more than 94,000 of them on its books.
  • Confartigianato (Italian only) – network and association for craftsman and artisans and other small enterprises.
  • Confcommercio – the largest business association in Italy, representing nearly 3 million employees and specialising in fields including commerce, tourism and transport and infrastructure.
  • Confindustria – the largest association of manufacturing and service companies, it has over 150,000 member companies.

Some networks are specifically dedicated to women in business. These membership-based networks offer support to businesswomen in Italy and organise regular training and networking events. Some of the most prominent networks include:

In addition to this, there are numerous professional networks and associations dedicated to individual professions, such as the Association of Italian Confectionery & Pasta Industries (AIDEPI), National Union of Agricultural Machinery Dealers (UNACMA) and Moda Industria, the Italian Fashion Association. There is an extensive list of professional, governmental, and business associations in Italy on the Export Focus website.

As elsewhere in the world, online networking sites have also become very popular among professionals in Italy. These networks enable companies and individuals to create online profiles and join interest groups. They can be useful tools for self-promotion, recruitment and making new contacts in your field. The most widely used networking site among professionals in Italy is the global networking site LinkedIn. Also important is ClubIn, which joins business people on social networks together and has branches throughout northern Italy.

Expat business people may also be interested in the country-specific business groups in Italy. A good starting point is to approach the respective country's Chamber of Commerce in Italy. Most Chambers run clubs for both business people from a particular country and Italian business people who want to do business with that country. These clubs offer consultation services and organise networking events for their members. For other expat groups in Italy, see Expat Groups in Italy.




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