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Old 09.12.2019, 18:49
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Networking for IT freelancers?

I'm a freelance software developer looking to visit Switzerland (Zürich in particular) and wanted to do some networking while I'm there. I have a couple of questions though:


I know the country basically shuts down between Christmas and New Years so I guess that it wouldn't be a good time to visit if I wanted to network? Are techie meetups strictly in German or is English okay as well? Where are these events advertised (Facebook, meetup.com, ...?) What about entry fees - is it usual to charge an entry fee for smaller (non-conference level) events, such as talks or just meetups? Are local venues open to the idea of a foreigner giving a talk or presentation?
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Old 11.12.2019, 20:27
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

Christmas is not really a good time to introduce yourself in any networking capacity, in any Western country, TBH.

I've come across a number of these groups and while everyone will be able to speak English, realistically they would be more German (or whatever the local language is) focused. Which makes sense, when you think about it, because even if English is the lingua franca of IT, is isn't of those who will engage those in IT. And if you can't engage with the clients and need someone else to do so for you, then you're already easier to replace or outsource elsewhere.

As for fees, I've never seen them charged and unless it was something nominal to cover refreshments at an even, I would see this as a red flag.
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Old 11.12.2019, 20:58
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

Have you tried Linkedin (English) and Xing (German) ?
That would be best bet in preparation.
However IT is a vast spectrum and most groups are specialized.
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Old 11.12.2019, 21:02
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

My husband used to go to a Drupal meet up in Basel when he first came here, but it fizzled out after a bit.
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Old 11.12.2019, 21:19
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

I always thought EF was the place for "Networking for IT freelancers"
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Old 11.12.2019, 22:33
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

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I always thought EF was the place for "Networking for IT freelancers"

I thought the only "Networking" IT people did involved Cat 5 cable?


Regards




Ian
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Old 11.12.2019, 23:21
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

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I thought the only "Networking" IT people did involved Cat 5 cable?
Regards

Ian
We're strictly on Cat 6 now!
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Old 12.12.2019, 01:24
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

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We're strictly on Cat 6 now!
Nah! You old fashioned thing you
WiFi, Bluetooth, and quantum communication.
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Old 12.12.2019, 10:45
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

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Have you tried Linkedin (English) and Xing (German) ?
There's plenty of networking via those platforms, but they tend not to be for freelancers per say. I've seen some for freelancers on Meetup.com - although, as I said before, if you want to freelance in Switzerland, language is important
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Old 12.12.2019, 14:21
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

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Have you tried Linkedin (English) and Xing (German) ?
That would be best bet in preparation.
However IT is a vast spectrum and most groups are specialized.

I'm leery of LinkedIn as it has a pretty scummy reputation but it seems like I'll have to bite the bullet sooner or later and join. Also, recruiter spam.



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although, as I said before, if you want to freelance in Switzerland, language is important

Okay, so is there any point in bothering if I only know English?
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Old 12.12.2019, 21:05
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

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Okay, so is there any point in bothering if I only know English?
Absolutely!
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Old 12.12.2019, 22:21
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

LinkedIn is where a certain „beer“ company lurks.
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Old 15.12.2019, 13:08
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

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Okay, so is there any point in bothering if I only know English?
Potentially, but it will be, at the very least, be much, much harder.

If you freelance you need to bring your own contracts in, so as an immigrant with no, or limited, preexisting social networks (family, school, military service, etc), you're already at a disadvantage.

On top of which you need to sell yourself to potential customers, which means being able to communicate with them. This rules out anyone who does not speak English and even if they do, you'll always get a local bias (not just here, but in most countries).

Of course, you could freelance for clients back home while living here, but that's something that works better if your market is richer than your residency, not so much for Switzerland.

But it can be worth it, but you'd probably want to integrate here for a while first. Learn the language, build up contacts, figure out the market. Getting off the boat and setting up shop without a word of the local lingo, on day one, is not something I'd recommend.
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Old 16.12.2019, 20:00
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

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But it can be worth it, but you'd probably want to integrate here for a while first. Learn the language, build up contacts, figure out the market. Getting off the boat and setting up shop without a word of the local lingo, on day one, is not something I'd recommend.

First off, thanks for the detailed reply! Since I'm not too keen on permanently moving to Switzerland or learning Swiss German, how much of a hit to my rates would I take if I went through an intermediary, such as a local agency or by partnering with a local freelancer that offers complementary services and/or takes a finder's fee?



Assuming that whatever I charge is in the usual range for freelance IT servicese.
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Old 16.12.2019, 21:00
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

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First off, thanks for the detailed reply! Since I'm not too keen on permanently moving to Switzerland or learning Swiss German, how much of a hit to my rates would I take if I went through an intermediary, such as a local agency or by partnering with a local freelancer that offers complementary services and/or takes a finder's fee?
First of all, you need to explain what your selling point is.

There's plenty of outsourcing going on here, but if so, it'll be with developers abroad in places where the cost are very low, and you don't want to compete on that basis, because if you do, you won't be able to afford to live here. So what can you offer that some chap in India or Uzbekistan can't?

TBH, contracting would be more realistic, in which case there are plenty of agencies that source development contractors and will do payroll. Although then that opens up the whole discussion about work visas, which in turn begs the question of whether you're an EU citizen or not.
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Old 16.12.2019, 21:52
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

I‘ve been to some IT and PMI evenings and it‘s all English. Meetup is free, PMI costs 50CHF or so.

Depends what your target market is. If it’s big companies English is fine, but they have preferred suppliers.

You can work for an agency. Plenty do it and speak no German.

Good luck.
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Old 16.12.2019, 22:23
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

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First of all, you need to explain what your selling point is.

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So what can you offer that some chap in India or Uzbekistan can't?

Essentially a near-shoring solution with quality (both software and business side) comparable to what you can get locally with the benefit of slightly (?) lower rates because I wouldn't have to live in Switzerland full time.



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TBH, contracting would be more realistic, in which case there are plenty of agencies that source development contractors and will do payroll.

As I understand, contracting agencies are usually for more permanent positions, right? I'm looking more for short term projects since I have existing clients already. So probably around a few months long or so at the most.


Also, if I go through a contracting agency, is there really any point in coming to Switzerland to network at all then?



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Meetup is free, PMI costs 50CHF or so.

What's PMI?



Oh, and thanks for the well wishes.
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Old 17.12.2019, 06:33
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

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lower rates because I wouldn't have to live in Switzerland full time.
So, how's that going to work?
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As I understand, contracting agencies are usually for more permanent positions, right? I'm looking more for short term projects since I have existing clients already. So probably around a few months long or so at the most.
Contracting agencies will have have contracts, not permanent positions. Many of these contracts will be for six or twelve months with options to renew, but there will also be shorter contracts that last only three months. These may even be easier to get as many contractors prefer the longer ones. Additionally, you may be able to negotiate contracts where you'd operate at 40% - 80%.

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Also, if I go through a contracting agency, is there really any point in coming to Switzerland to network at all then?
Probably not, at not come over exclusively to network; you'll be over for work anyway and will be able to do so then.
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Old 17.12.2019, 07:19
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

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Essentially a near-shoring solution with quality (both software and business side) comparable to what you can get locally with the benefit of slightly (?) lower rates because I wouldn't have to live in Switzerland full time.
You fail to appreciate the legal requirement for body shopping/contracting in Switzerland - you must be properly licensed in order for Swiss companies to consider doing business with you. Without this you will not get on the preferred supplier list of any of the major companies that employ contractors.
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Old 17.12.2019, 08:38
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Re: Networking for IT freelancers?

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So, how's that going to work?

I'm not sure what you're trying to ask me. I wouldn't live in Switzerland at all, I'd just visit once or twice a month to meet prospective clients, network and maybe give talks. No actual work would be done in Switzerland per se.



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Probably not, at not come over exclusively to network; you'll be over for work anyway and will be able to do so then.

Except I'm not interested in actual on-site "positions". Even if I were to move myself and my business to Switzerland sometime in the future (which is not a given), I'd still work remotely - I have no interest in any "butts in seats" positions.



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You fail to appreciate the legal requirement for body shopping/contracting in Switzerland - you must be properly licensed in order for Swiss companies to consider doing business with you. Without this you will not get on the preferred supplier list of any of the major companies that employ contractors.

I understand that Swiss companies are hesitant to work with sole proprietorships on account of some issues they had in the past over hidden employment but I'm not aware of any actual legal requirement for me to be "licensed". Are you talking about professional insurance? Or just internal policies of certain companies?
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