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A growing number of professionals are using social media to build a personal, public identity—a brand of their own—based on their work. Think of an accountant who writes a widely read blog about auditing, or a sales associate who has attracted a big following online by tweeting out his store’s latest deals.
Co-branded employees may exist largely below the radar now, but that’s changing fast, and employers need to start preparing for the ever-greater challenges they pose for managers, co-workers and companies. Their activities can either complement a company’s own brand image or clash with it. Companies that fail to make room for co-branded employees—or worse yet, embrace them without thinking through the implications—risk alienating or losing their best employees, or confusing or even burning their corporate brand.