Being the face of your project is like hitting the bigtime as an academic researcher. It means that you’ve finally been recognized for the hard work and knowledge you’ve been sharing with your field, but along with this recognition comes a lot of intimidating responsibilities.
Maybe you’re a social butterfly and this job is right up your alley, or maybe you prefer the wallflower, introvert role and this position is as scary for you as it is exciting. Either way, being the face of an innovative new project is a big deal. It’s the chance to lead your project and team members and get seen. If you do it right, you can handle this in a way that combines professionalism with bringing in your own values. These tips can help you make this new role as easy and successful as possible.
Know Your “Why”
From the moment you’re appointed “The Face,” things are going to start to pick up momentum fast. Figuring out why you accepted this challenging role is going to be what keeps you grounded.
Why is the research important to you? Why did you begin the planning in the first place? What did you want to solve, and why was this the way you chose to do the job?
Those “why” answers will always guide you when you have a dilemma in front of you. If you have to choose between pleasing stakeholders and sticking to your “why,” always go for the one that aligns you closest to coming out with your final goal. You can share your story and your “why” reasons as you talk to the stakeholders and let them know your decisions. As a leader, you have more pull than you realize. Your name and face are identified with the project. If you disagree with the agenda and the way the project is being led, it looks bad on the stakeholders and other people involved.
Realize You’re a Leader, Whether You Want it Or Not
You may not have woken up that morning with the intention of becoming a leader, but here you are, killing it. Or, you would be, if you’d accept that it’s your new role, whether you wanted it or not or were ready for it or not.
To do this well, you only need to hone a few skills:
● Your approach. People will see you as approachable when you become more of a real person to them. As a leader and a “face,” you’re more of a celebrity than a human. Share your story and your beliefs in your project by networking. Use social media to build your following and develop connections.
● Your communication. You can’t share your stories with an audience you haven’t built. Likewise, they can’t connect with you if you don’t put yourself out there. Go on tours, speak at conferences, give out your email address, and respond to people as much as you can. Eventually, if all goes well, you’ll need an assistant to help you with this, but that’s a good problem to have!
● Your network. Connecting with people is part of being a leader. But you have to connect with the right people. A powerful base of a handful of people is much stronger than a big following of people who will leave you stranded as soon as things get tough. Building a network means starting with a strong foundation and continuing to connect with everyone involved, not ignoring them as soon as your face brings you more popularity.
The important thing is to make the most of this opportunity to spread your message as far and wide as it can go. With the right approach, communication skills, and network of people, you can use your “face” to make the difference you were hoping your project made, and use that project to make an impactful outcome.