For the past several years, my executive coaching clients and participants in personal branding webinars have heard me talk about the idea of “Solutions Networking.”

Solutions Networking is the idea that when you’re networking (that is, gathering advice, information, and referrals), that you do so around the goal that you’re networking to learn about organizations that are suffering the problem at which you’re an expert in solving.

What’s the foundation of this idea? You have to be clear about your FOCUS or personal brand, and know where you add value to an organization.

For instance, let’s take the example of the senior recruiter who’s clear about what she wants to do and what she does best which, by the way, equals where she adds the most value to an employer.

Her brand is: Centralize Recruiting Systems that attract & retain best-in-class talent.

When she networks with her direct contacts (and gets introduced to new contacts), the reason she’s networking is to find contacts and identify organizations who are looking to up the ante on their recruitment systems and centralize their efforts to recruit talent that is considered to be world-class.

When she’s networking, her contacts are NOT directing her to organizations that have a “burn ‘em and churn ‘em” mentality about their staff. In other words, what she does best is not appealing to those organizations that believe and treat their employees as disposable. So those aren’t the connections she’s making.

By networking with her personal brand, she’s looking for advice, information and referrals around the problem. It means that she’s narrowed the field of her search because she’s best at working with employers who are committed to finding and retaining great employees. She isn’t interested in organizations that have the “burn ‘em and churn ‘em” mentality, and they’re not interested in her.

By networking with her personal brand, it also means that her contacts are now clearer about how they can help her network.

Rather than sending her job leads that aren’t a match or floating her resume for her (generally a useless exercise), they’re offering to make introductions because it makes them look good to present a ‘solution’ to a problem one of their contacts is experiencing.

It means her contacts now have a stake in the game because they can gain relational equity by facilitating that introduction. It’s a different level of motivation for the contact. And, for those of us that don’t feel comfortable networking, it can give a more concrete sense of purpose to our efforts.

Have you tried “solutions networking?” If so, what do you think?