Monday, August 15, 2011

Definition of Affinity: What you don't know can hurt you

Everyone wants to belong, to feel connected to someone or something, to find a fit that leads to comfort, satisfaction, fulfillment, validation, security, convenience, passion, or more.

For years,
Marketers have sought ways to identify people who are a good fit for their causes, products, and services.
Human resources specialists have sought to attract and retain skilled and committed employees.
Leaders have sought to build-up, retain, and inspire those who follow them or support their cause or beliefs.

Higher education administrators have sought students who fit their campus profile and will become supportive and involved alumni.
Fund-raising specialists have sought to attract donors and maintain relationships with those who can continue to provide financial support.
Volunteer coordinators have sought to acquire and foster the time and talent of potential and current volunteers.
Personalities have sought to build themselves as a brand to attract fans who will buy tickets and merchandise they endorse.
Account executives have sought to competitively secure new clients and proactively address ongoing and emerging client needs.

These professionals share something in common: the need to understand and leverage affinities. By understanding and leveraging affinity, avenues open up to make all these activities possible, which all have a direct impact on the bottom line. Thus, what you don't know about affinity can hurt you.

How does one define affinity? One affinity definition from states:
af•fin•i•ty   [uh-fin-i-tee]
noun, plural -ties., adjective noun
1. a natural liking for or attraction to a person, thing, idea, etc.
2. a person, thing, idea, etc., for which such a natural liking or attraction is felt.
3. relationship by marriage or by ties other than those of blood (distinguished from consanguinity).
4. inherent likeness or agreement; close resemblance or connection.
5. Biology - the phylogenetic relationship between two organisms or groups of organisms resulting in a resemblance in general plan or structure, or in the essential structural parts.
6. Chemistry - the force by which atoms are held together in chemical compounds.

The professionals in the examples above bring to life the definition of affinity. These professionals identify, cultivate, and fine-tune affinities to achieve goals and fulfill missions. What constitutes the definition of affinity may differ across disciplines, industries, and organizations; however, generally over-arching ideas often surface that can be applied globally and from which those in these and related professions can all learn. is the intersection for the many ways one may define affinity.

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

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