This morning I was talking to a recruitment consultant whom I meet at a conference through the use of twitter. We were both sitting in the same room tweeting about the event. Within moments we became followers on Twitter and connected on LinkedIn. By the end of the morning tea break we were deep into conversation.

Before, we even got to talking, we knew a good deal about each others work history, topics of interest and more. There was little time for small talk, but a deep dive into topics of interest for the moment. Morning tea ended, we swapped business cards (I'm not sure why, as we were already connected). Some habits are hard to break.

One of the topics which we quickly talked about was personal branding. We talked about who owns a personal twitter account, the contacts within a LinkedIn profile and more. Is it the employer or the employee?  I am aware that some employers take a hardline approach to who owns the information contained within an online social profile to even the profile itself.

I heard a story of a sales person who was leaving a company for greener pastures.  During the off-boarding procedure,  he was told to delete all of the contacts he had made through LinkedIn.  I can understand the view of the employer as downloading a copy of the customer database (usually a CRM) would be considered theft of intellectual property.  But what about when these contacts are stored in a sudo CRM such as LinkedIn?

Over the years I have created my own brand through the use of social media.  My brand is "Vaughan Rivett", also known as "The Social Business Guy".  Most of this brand was built while owning my own business, while I have also worked for two companies since.  My view is that when I'm hired by a company, that company gets to benefit from my brand.  This happens by default.

It is as if the company gets to rent my brand during my time in their employ.  It is likely that this brand will become more valuable during this time or there could also be an adverse effect.  Regardless, I am of the view that unless the brand was purchased by the company then the brand and all it encompasses leaves with me.