information for global expats

Business Groups, Associations and Networking for Expats in Germany

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted:July 2014

There are fewer business groups in Germany than in similarly sized countries. Nevertheless, there is still a fair number of networking groups, clubs and professional associations dedicated to business and individual professions. You can find out more about them in German business magazines and journals, including that of the local chamber of commerce, and on websites such as MW Online (in German only.)

Typically, you will have to sign up to the 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 network’s website. Most of these groups also have regional and local branches.

Among the major business groups and networks are:

  • Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag, DIHK) – an organisation which coordinates the 80 local Chambers of Commerce and Industry across the country. DIHK provides support to businesses, runs networking events and works with the Government to shape business policy.
  • Marketing Club (Deutscher Marketingverband)– association with more than 14,000 members (almost all of them based in Germany) dedicated to marketing and sharing knowledge.
  • Wirtschaftsjunioren Deutschland (WJD, also known as JCI Germany) – association of young managers and entrepreneurs, part of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance. This organisation has more than 10,000 active members.

There are also networks specifically dedicated to women in business. These membership-based networks offer support to businesswomen in Germany 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 German Electrical Association, German Steel Federation and the German Catering Industry. Annual membership fees range from €100 to €500. There is an extensive list of professional, governmental, and business associations in Germany on the Export Focus website.

As elsewhere in the world, online networking sites have also become very popular among professionals in Germany. 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 Germany is Xing AG, which has 14 million members, half of whom are from German-speaking countries. Also popular is the global networking site LinkedIn.

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




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