Especially in the last few years, the concept of personal branding has begun to take hold. Many of your employees now see themselves—and not just your company—as a brand they want to build with their own blogs, networks and followers.

In a guest post at the HubSpot blog, Dan Schawbel argues it's a situation that should make employers very happy. Why? His case for the encouragement of personal branding includes points like these:

Employee evangelists don't cost a thing. Check out their LinkedIn and FaceBook profiles—they undoubtedly have extensive networks filled with people you have yet to reach. You can give employees an offer or information they might want to share with their connections, but they might be one step ahead of you. "[I]f they take pride in your company and truly like your product," he says, "they will market it … without [your] asking them to."

Their good ideas can reflect well on your brand. Whether or not they're speaking in a corporate or personal capacity—and they should always clarify which it is—their thought leadership can add an innovative sheen to the brand.

"[C]ompanies [with a reduced marketing budget] have a great opportunity to use [their] employees to spread the word," says Schawbel. "Personal branding supports corporate branding." And that's pure Marketing Inspiration.

More Inspiration:
Elaine Fogel: Gift Cards: Another Example of Duping the Public
Paul Barsch: The Great Recession: Things Are Different Now
Ann Handley: Introducing the Marketer's Addictionary

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