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Verbal Business Cards in Madrid

I’m writing from the heart of Madrid, and I’m here at the invitation of the European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Programme JEM Project which is working on Jobs and Employability Support for Migrants. As a migrant worker myself in the UK, I’m familiar with the challenges of working and starting a business in a new country, but yesterday was the first time I’ve experienced the difficulty of not being able to communicate. This is a problem. I’m here as an expert in communicating how to communicate your value as an employee or self-employed people. In fact I developed a methodology to make it simple. But yesterday I was silenced with no way to share my nuanced message as the group did not have one language in common.

UPTA (, one of the few trade unions for self-employed people in the world, hosted the JEM event and the group was made up of people from Spain, France, Mexico, Argentina, England, France and me, the Australian. Due to the expertise of project partners we worked through three design thinking projects for three businesses, in three countries. And introductions.

After a late lunch in a Cuban restaurant, the project partners and learners from that session moved across town to meet a group of female entrepreneurs who are developing their businesses with the help of female, a different European project run by the Icelandic Department of Labour which includes a consortium of UK, Spanish and Lithuanian partners. And now it was my turn to run the session. Yikes!

Luckily over coffee earlier, I’d talked about my Verbal Business Card concept with Jenny Verney who was there to explain the way that England deals with helping people to learn English for business. She abandoned most of her presentation for an exercise in how to give yourself a business voice in a foreign language. So some English and French speakers worked with a Spanish speaker, the Spanish worked with the Jenny, and others with a tri-lingual Frenchman. Half an hour later, I stood up and introduced my session and myself as soy profesora de la unniversidad y ayvado a la gente a poner negocios y tengo expereinca de negocias en tres paises. My first ever sentence in another language.

From there I could launch my Verbal Business Card session which was simultaneously translated into French and Spanish. Although there were many cultural differences in the way female entrepreneurs work it was brilliant to see how the Verbal Business Card transformed their messages. I can show you how it worked – as they are recording and translating them and uploading to YouTube.

So it has been a big week, my first sentence in another language and my first blog post. You’ll be hearing more from me soon.

Dr Lyn Batchelor, Senior Lecturer in Enterprise