Networking, co-working, and crafting in Paris
Let’s face it, whether you have a business or not, it can be a bit challenging to meet people in Paris. I often joke that it took me 10 years to meet French friends. The world it changing, and social media is making it easier to to connect, but still we’re all looking for those strong, true connections. This was one of the topics that came up in my multiple “calls with strangers”, so, inspired by those conversations, I thought I’d put together a little guide to meeting people and trying new things in Paris. Getting out of the house is one place to start. Whether you’re planning to move to Paris in the near future, or have lived here for your entire life and you’ll looking for a new twist, there’s something in this post for you. And while we’re talking Paris here, many of these ideas can be easily translated to any city.
I broke it down into three sections: networking, co-working, and make & do. There’s a lot of overlap, but sometimes it helps to think about trying something new in a different context.
The whole idea of networking makes me cringe, but I’ve always loved the idea of making friends, rather than networking. In the midst of my own career pivot, I find myself more drawn to meeting new people. I did jump on calls with 13 strangers after all. I’ll write about that another time, but for now, here are some places you may want to consider for meeting new people or trying new things. Most of them are in English, but you should always cross check if you don’t speak French.
- Look for alumni associations and groups you’re involved in and see if there’s a Paris chapter. Think university, interests, hobbies, etc.
- Follow groups and organisations on social media. I recommend creating Twitter lists to keep them all organized. Or you can follow the “Paris network” list I created.
- Sign up for newsletters for any organizations that spark your interests. It’s often the best way to be the first in the know. Facebook pages and Instagram accounts are also worth checking out and following.
- Sign up for Eventbrite emails and check in regularly to see what events spark your interest. Don’t be afraid to do something new. Same goes for MeetUp.com —look for groups that interest you.
- Creative Mornings is an international free talk series with chapters around the world. There’s one in Paris too. (Even if you’re not in the same city, all the talks are recorded and shared on the CM website. I’ve also caught some in other cities on my travels).
- Station F (@joinstationF) is Europe’s largest start-up campus. They often host events open to the public. Same goes for start-up incubator, The Family (@_TheFamily) and NUMA (@NUMAparis). Hardware Club (@hardware_club) has also been known to host their own “F Conference” (where yours truly spoke last spring). Most of the events hosted by these groups are posted on Eventbrite and Facebook.
- For UX, follow Hexagon UX (@hexux_paris on Twitter). Women who run their own business, check out Paris for Her. Parents check out Message Paris, an English-speaking organization. My French Life is an online community.
- To build your language skills check out Franglish. 🗣 It’s like speed dating, but for language exchange. You speak half the time in French, and the other half in English. 🎬 Also check out Lost in Frenchlation—French movies with English subtitles.
- Expat leads: FUSAC, the American Library in Paris, Democrats Abroad, the American Church in person message boards, American Cathedral.
- Libraries and bookstores often have events. Check the American Library in Paris, Shakespeare & Company, W.H. Smith, who regularly invite authors for readings. (These are all English speaking, but French bookshops do it too.)
- Scout out people on LinkedIn who seem to be like minded. Send them a short, but thoughtful email that is enough to capture their attention. Normally I ignore most of these requests, but recently a designer reached out to me, and we ended up meeting for coffee, and it was awesome! (It was the way she wrote the initial message that piqued my attention; she didn’t suggest coffee, I did. Here’s great advice for an awesome coffee meeting☕️).
- Every time my friend Olga travels to a new city she reaches out to a developer she follows online. She does this by speaking directly about an article they’ve written or project that they’ve worked on. She gives them a reason to respond. (Networking can get really generic and boring, but it can be fun—if you make it interesting, and make a little effort!)
I’m not going to lie. I haven’t really fallen in love with the Paris co-working scene, but putting this post together suddenly made it more exciting. There’s still a lot I have to try, and it all depends what you’re looking for. If you’re like me, sometimes you just need to get out of the house! Here are a whole bunch of ideas:
- NUMA is a city run start-up space where the ground floor is a café and free co-working space, and the upper floors are home to various start-ups. It’s very central and can be an interesting place to catch events.
- Many of the coworking cafés and spaces have multiple spaces around the city, and involve a fee of some kind (for coffee or for the day/week/month): Anticafé (pay by the hour, multiple locations), Café Craft, Coworkshop, Nuages, Station W, Morning Coffee, SPACES, WeWork. I’m a huge fan of Time Work Space (pictured above) but it’s not in Paris proper, and it’s by monthly membership. My friend Cécile did all the interior design. It’s also home to an incredible recording and podcast studio if you’re looking to rent a space for sound.
- Any café or coffee shop. ☕️ The challenge here is space. Some places are less computer friendly than others (especially on weekends, when seats are limited). You may have better luck finding a big bistro/brasserie and hiding at a table in the back. Avoid lunch and meal times to ensure you have your space. Increasingly, some restaurants are opening their doors to freelancers and remote workers during off hours. (My friend Lindsey has a great list of specialty coffee shops. More keep opening regularly too.)
- Public libraries are the original co-working spaces. 📚 Paris has some incredible libraries. It will be easier to get a library card (and seat) at some more than others. You likely will need proof of residence in France + a photo. Even museums like the Centre Pompidou have incredible libraries to work from. The American Library is a great place for English language books, and a place to work (it’s close to the Eiffel Tower!).
- Hotel lobbies have become another favorite of mine. The Hoxton and Hotel Grand Boulevards are a couple to start. Look for the ones with the more spacious lobbies or restaurants with people with laptops ;) (Hoxton hotels are also known for regularly hosting events.)
MAKE & DO
In recent years, Do-It-Yourself culture has really taken off in Paris. Keep your eye out for “ateliers” (workshops) and “cours” (courses) being offered in the city. They’re also a fantastic way to unplug and do something different. I actually didn’t realize there were so many cool options until someone asked me about it. This is a short list, which I’ll be happy to keep updating.
- Seize Paris is a crafty place in the 11th for all things DIY.
- Adeline Klam is a shop in the 11th that regularly hosts creative workshops (atelier) to make fun paper creations.
- Klin d’Oeil is yet another great shop in the 11th that often opens their doors for screen printing, and other activities where they invite other creatives in their doors for workshops for kids and adults.
- Les Petits Points Parisiens is a small knitting shop in Montmartre that offers classes.
- Cours municipaux d’adultes (municipal courses) are affordable courses offered by the city of Paris that open twice a year. The language classes fill up fast, but there are tons of other subjects too. Chances are you’ll meet other people in the classes too.
- La Cuisine Paris is a cooking school where you can learn all sorts of tricks and recipes to take your skills in the kitchen up a notch, from croissants to savoury dinners. (They have a great monthly newsletter that keeps you in touch with events around Paris in addition to a mouthwatering Instagram account.)
- Keep an eye out for pop-up shops in Paris. They often have “animations” and events associated with these limited edition events.
- Follow these kinds of places on Instagram! Instagram is another great networking tool. Check out who my @navigateparis account is following for more ideas of things to do or places to visit in Paris. I’m constantly finding great new businesses in Paris to follow to help you go deeper than the surface.
This post just brushes the surface. Share all your secrets! Where are your favorite places to work? network? and get crafty in Paris? Share them in the comments. Let’s do our part to help support small and independent businesses in the process. 😊