Personal Branding has been the buzzword for the past couple of years. Many have bought into it, but most have not. There have been countless articles, posts, and books written about the importance of personal branding. I for one believe it is essential to your success AND your company’s success.

I understand why many organizations are hesitant to have their employees have their own “brand.” Some larger organizations (and some smaller) fear that their message, vision, or mission may get muted, or better yet- blurred. If done correctly, personal branding can help increase company awareness, not decrease.

The one thing an employee has and will always have is their brand. They may switch companies, they may switch jobs within their current organization- but their brand is always constant. It is a way of recognizing and remembering people. E-mails change and phone numbers change, but if you brand yourself, people can follow you wherever you go.

I have had a number of conversations and listened to recruiters who have successfully married their brand and their company together. It is these companies that have reaped the successes of putting together the brands.

Jim Stroud has one of my favorite stories. You see, he has always worked FOR a company, yet he is known outside the company he works for by a number of things. He is known for his blogs. He is known for his website (which he recently sold). He is known for his speaking engagements. He is known for his webinars. He is known for his posts on LinkedIn. He is known for his YouTube videos.

The truth of it is, every time he does one of those “extra” things, he is bringing more visibility to the company he represents- Randstad. While he is doing this, he also continues to build his brand.

Randstad gets it. So does Zappos. When they hired Stacy Zapar at Zappos, there was also a marriage, of sorts, a perfect professional match. After all, she is the most connected woman on LinkedIn; with 300 million members and counting, that’s saying something. And she has been actively putting her network to work – not to mention putting the industry on notice with her recent employer brand initiatives – all of which tie directly into building recruiters’ personal brands.

Technomedia gets it, too. When they hired Rayanne Thorne, they got everything that comes with Rayanne’s personal brand – and that’s a lot of benefits. Hiring Rayanne helped them inherit a spot on TopRecruiterTV, webinars, blogs and other byproducts of her long track record of industry experience and expertise. Because of strategic hires like Jim, Stacy, and Rayanne’s brand everyone is talking about Randstad, Zappos and Technomedia.

Could these companies have done it without them? Maybe. Certainly not as fast as they did it. Hiring someone with a strong personal brand is the recruiting equivalent of making an acquisition – and can carry the same sort of bottom line impact on your company’s productivity and profitability. When a company hires a recruiter with a strong brand, they aren’t just getting a recruiter – they’re getting their network, contacts and manifold connections. They can pick up right where they left off with their other organization. The company now has a tremendous amount of assets they no longer had, the kind of turnover no succession planning can really plan for.

That’s why as recruiters, we need to remember the importance of building a personal brand – because it has the potential to be one of your greatest professional assets. It’s not enough to be known inside your organization, but outside, to candidates, customers and colleagues. If people know who you are, they’ll find you – which makes recruiting a whole lot easier. The value of a recruiter with a strong personal brand is pretty much priceless. If you’re not already making a name for yourself, you’re likely selling yourself short.

The companies that “get it” – or at least, enable personal brand building instead of enforcing corporate brand guidelines will have far more success today – and tomorrow – than their competitors.

Employers are realizing that there’s no reason to fear personal brands, and, increasingly, encourage them as an inevitable, but necessary, component of the constantly shifting world of work and the next evolution of recruitment.