information for global expats

Business Groups, Associations and Networking for Expats in France

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: November 2014

Networking is an integral part of French business culture. There are numerous groups, clubs, professional associations and other networks dedicated to business and individual professions in the France. Typically, you will have to sign up to become a member of such a group and pay an annual membership fee. In return, you will get access to the group’s networking events, publications, online resources and consultation services. Detailed information on how to become a member, various types of membership and the respective fees can be found on the website of a particular network. Many of these groups also have regional and local branches. It is a good idea to contact your local mairie (town hall) to find more information about local business and networking groups.
Among the major business groups and networks are:

  • Chambres de Commerce et d’Industrie (Chambers of Commerce and Industry or CCI) is the official government-ran trade and industry body.
  • Réseau Oudinot (Oudinot Network) is a network for managers and top executives, based in Paris.
  • Accueil des Villes Francaises (AVF) is for all new arrivals in France, and helps them to settle into their new environment and meet people. There are 340 AVF branches in French towns and cities and the organisation has over 70,000 members.

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

In addition to this, there are great number of professional networks and associations dedicated to individual professions, such as the French Agriculture Association, National Building Federation and the Food and Beverage Industry Association. There is an extensive list of professional, governmental, and business associations in France on the Export Focus website.

As elsewhere in the world, online networking sites have also become very popular among professionals in France. These networks enable both 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 France is the global networking site LinkedIn.

Expat business professionals might also be interested in the country-specific business groups. A good starting point is to approach the respective country's Chamber of Commerce in France. Most chambers run membership clubs directed at both business professionals from the respective country who are doing business and French business professionals who are interested in doing business with that particular country. These clubs offer consultation services and organise networking events for their members.

You can also contact your country’s French Embassy. For details about other expat groups in France, see Expat Groups in France.




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