Saturday, August 20, 2011

"What is affinity?": Networking event brings affinity to light

"I just have a quick question," said a woman as she slid into the seat next to me at a networking event. "What is affinity?"
    I replied, "Didn't you mention earlier tonight that you had a dog that passed away?"
    "Yes," she said, and began to smile a bit, pleased that I had remembered.
    "What kind of dog was it?" I asked.
    "A chocolate lab," she replied as her shoulders lifted up.
    "Are you a fan of chocolate labs or were you just into this dog?"
    "I love all dogs," she answered emphatically, her smile widening as she leaned toward me in anticipation of my next question.

    "So if someone were to start a conversation with you about dogs, could you go on and on discussing dogs with that person?"
    "Oh, yes!" she said elated.
    "Well, then, you have an affinity for dogs!" I said. "And I can see that affinity in your body language. As I asked you questions, you began to perk up, you smiled more and more, and you sat up straight, and then leaned in toward me."

Looking at her, it was almost as if I could see the light bulb turn on. We then launched into a lively 10-minute conversation that only ended because her friend had to remind her that they were supposed to be on their way home.

One thing I learned that night: So many of us are engaged in affinities yet have no idea what affinity is, or don't pay attention to the signs flashing at us that say: This person has a strong affinity for ____. When it comes to affinity, do you know it when you see it? If not, you are missing an opportunity to connect more and more with like-minded people who can become valuable personal and professional contacts.

In the coming weeks, my posts will include affinity tips and folks who have leveraged affinities into highly rewarding hobbies, small businesses, ground-breaking actions affecting themselves and others, and more. Through their examples, we will see affinity come to light.

Brenda Dow is a specialist in Marketing, Advancement, and Business Development. She holds degrees in communications and human resources management, and blogs about affinities and affinity related activities at