Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Affinity definition: Tribes will form around ideas, leaders

"I'll know it when I see it." These famous words have often been spoken by a number of us. Professionals and volunteers involved in affinity relations or identifying and working with affinity groups recognize that no magic formula exists to determine every affinity or affinity group. Often times, such individuals simply know it when they see it, or know when they see signs that an affinity or affinity group may possibly exist or be developing.

Yesterday's blog looked at a formal definition of affinity. Today we look at an organic concept or definition of affinity, specifically aspects of the book Tribes by Seth Godin that illustrate "I'll know it when I see it." Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us is filled with numerous real-life examples of individuals with shared affinities coming together in support of people, products, ideas, services, causes, companies, and more.

"A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea," Godin wrote. "A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate." According to Godin, today's technology eliminates communication barriers and makes promoting anything accessible to the masses. He said people seek connectedness and many times they are looking for a leader to step up and bring together people with common interests.

Published in October 2008, the book is still making waves. Reading through it once is just not enough, due to the numerous examples and interesting perspectives. However, reading is simplified since the book has only 151 pages with all information organized in small, digestible chunks -- no chapters, no table of contents, no index. Instead, text is simply divided by intriguing headlines into sections of about three to 12 paragraphs in length that flow from one point to another. Just pull out the book when you have a few minutes to read (as I did during a recent hospital visit with multiple interruptions).

The concept and definition of affinity rings true throughout the book yet in new and thought-provoking ways. I found myself saying "yes, yes" reading through sections such as:
  - "Leadership Is Not Management" (page 13)
  - "Leading from the Bottom (with a Newsletter)" (page 28)
  - "How Many Fans Do You Have?" (page 32)
  - "Crowbars" (page 36)
  - "Fear of Failure is Overrated" (page 46)
  - "Most People Don't Matter So Much" (page 68)
  - "When Tribes Replace What You're Used To" (page 111)

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us provides new ideas for how to view and define affinity. It can provide helpful perspectives to those involved with affinity groups or affinity-related activities.

Brenda Dow is a specialist in Marketing, Advancement, and Business Development. She holds degrees in communications and human resources management, and blogs about the impact of affinities at http://www.AffinityAvenue.com.

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