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Networking in Zurich – Top tips for expats

Updated 26 Jul 2023

Welcome to Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland and a vibrant hub of business, culture, and expat life! As you navigate this new chapter in your life, you might find yourself amidst the towering Swiss Alps one moment, and exploring the bustling Bahnhofstrasse the next. It's an exciting journey filled with new experiences like renting a new apartment in Zurich, trying out Swiss food or simply swimming in Lake Zurich. But let's face it – it can also be a tad overwhelming at times, especially when you're trying to find your footing in a new city.

That's where networking comes into play. You may have heard the saying, “It's not what you know, but who you know.” Well, that rings particularly true when you're an expat. Networking is all about making connections, building relationships, and opening doors to opportunities that might not have been accessible otherwise.

In this blog post, we'll explore the ins and outs of networking in Zurich from an expat's perspective, sharing top tips, venues, online platforms, and cultural etiquette to keep in mind. Whether you're looking to grow your professional network, make new friends, or simply integrate better into the local community, we've got you covered. So, let's dive right in!

Why networking is important for expats

You've probably heard the phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” Well, when you're an expat in Zurich, networking is your golden ticket to doing just that. But why is networking so crucial for expats? Let's break it down.

  • Easing the transition. Moving to a new city is exciting, but it can also be stressful. By networking, you can meet people who have been in your shoes and who can provide invaluable advice and support. They can help you navigate the local customs, suggest the best places to eat and shop, and even assist with practical matters like finding a place to live.
  • Professional opportunities. Whether you're searching for a job, seeking career advancement, or hoping to start your own business, networking can connect you with the right people. You never know – you might just meet your next employer, business partner, or client at a networking event.
  • Friendship and social interaction. Humans are social creatures, and expats are no exception. Networking events provide a platform to meet like-minded individuals, make friends, and ward off any feelings of loneliness or isolation.
  • Cultural integration. Networking with locals can help you understand Swiss culture better and feel more integrated into the community. It’s a great way to learn about local traditions, festivals, and lifestyle.
  • Personal growth. Networking pushes you out of your comfort zone, helping you build confidence and communication skills. Plus, the diverse crowd at networking events ensures that you're constantly learning and growing.

As you can see, networking is not just about schmoozing at social events or exchanging business cards – it's about building meaningful relationships that can enhance your expat experience in Zurich. So, let's explore how you can tap into the power of networking in this beautiful Swiss city.

Top places to network in Zurich

Zurich offers a plethora of networking opportunities for expats. From coworking spaces to social clubs, here are some top places where you can start making connections:

  • Coworking spaces. Spaces like Impact Hub, Westhive, and Kraftwerk are not just about sharing a workspace. They host regular networking events, workshops, and social gatherings where you can meet other professionals and entrepreneurs.
  • Business events. Zurich is a business hub that hosts numerous events, conferences, and trade fairs. Keep an eye on websites such as Eventbrite or Meetup for upcoming events related to your industry.
  • Expat social clubs. Join clubs like the American Women's Club of Zurich, Zurich International Women's Association, or the British Swiss Chamber of Commerce. These clubs often organise social events, cultural tours, and charity work, providing ample opportunities to network.
  • Sports clubs. If you're a sports enthusiast, join one of the many sports clubs in Zurich. Examples of popular clubs include Zurich Netball ClubZurich Chess Club and Kanu Polo Club. Participating in these clubs is a great way to stay fit and meet people with similar interests.
  • Language exchange groups. Participating in language exchange groups can be beneficial in two ways: strengthening your language skills and meeting new people. Check out groups like Mundo Lingo or Tandem Zurich.

Networking is about quality. It's about building meaningful relationships. So, choose the venues that resonate with you, and you'll find networking becomes more enjoyable and less of a chore.

Online networking platforms for expats in Zurich

In today's digital age, networking isn't just about attending events or joining clubs – it can also be done online. Here are some platforms where you can network with other expats and locals in Zurich:

  • LinkedIn. The world's largest professional networking platform, LinkedIn is a great place to connect with professionals in your industry in Zurich. Joining relevant LinkedIn Groups such as “Zurich Networking Group” or “Expat Network Switzerland” can also be beneficial.
  • XING. Popular in the German-speaking world, XING is another professional networking platform where you can connect with professionals in Zurich.
  • Facebook. There are numerous Facebook groups for expats in Zurich such as “Expats in Zurich”, “Zurich Expats” and “Zurich Together”. These groups often share useful information and organise meet-ups.
  • Meetup. Meetup is an online platform that allows people to create and join groups based on their interests. There are many Zurich-based groups on Meetup catering to various interests, from tech to hiking.
  • InternationsInternations has in-person events as well as an online community where you can connect with other expats.
  • Quora. Quora is a Q&A platform where you can ask questions about life in Zurich and get answers from locals and fellow expats.

Networking tips for expats in Zurich

Here are some helpful pointers to guide your networking journey in Zurich.

  • Be authentic. Authenticity is key in networking. Be yourself and show genuine interest in others. People appreciate sincerity and are more inclined to connect with you if they feel you are genuine.
  • Have a clear objective. Define what you hope to achieve from networking. This could be job opportunities, seeking advice, or simply making new friends. A clear objective will steer your conversations and make your networking efforts more fruitful.
  • Listen more, talk less. Building relationships starts with active listening. Create a two-way dialogue and show interest in what others have to say.
  • Follow up. Don't let the connections fade after the event. Send a follow-up email or message thanking the person for their time and expressing your interest in staying connected.
  • Be patient. Networking is a process, not an event. It takes time to build a strong network, so stay patient and persistent, and keep attending events and meeting new people.
  • Embrace cultural differences. Zurich is a multicultural city. Learning from and respecting cultural differences can enrich your expat experience and help you build a diverse network.

Networking is about giving as much as receiving. Whether it's sharing professional expertise, offering a fresh perspective, or lending a listening ear, the value you bring to others is what makes networking truly rewarding.
Navigating through a new city as an expat can present a unique set of challenges and opportunities. With its multicultural environment and thriving professional scene, Zurich offers numerous avenues to network and connect with like-minded individuals.

From attending expat-specific events to joining online communities, there are many ways to start building your network in Zurich. Remember, the key to successful networking isn't just about accumulating contacts – it's about building authentic relationships. This involves being genuine in your interactions, providing value to others, and respecting their time and boundaries.

As you embark on your networking journey, remember this: everyone you'll meet has a unique story to tell and a valuable lesson to share. So, be open, be curious, and most importantly, enjoy the process. Welcome to Zurich – the start of your next great adventure!

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