Getting Started With Building Relationships

“Who else should we involve in community-level change?”

Relationships drive the work of community change forward. You are working to build relationships with a central team right now, but what about building relationships outside of your team? You need funding, resources, volunteers, and other assistance as you move through executing projects.  

The work of building relationships needs to happen before asking for something from organizations or individuals–your goal is to cultivate long-term and authentic partnerships while identifying what is important to community decision-makers, potential funders, and volunteers.  

In order to build strong relationships with others, you need to understand how you work with others. Continuing to learn more about yourself is important as these relationships develop. 


Activities: Choose 2-3 activities to complete to identify common interests and build relationships with your team. You’ll be tempted to jump straight into the work, but understanding what matters to others on your team and how they work best is important to your long-term success. Take your time with the activities; they aren’t intended to be completed in one sitting. 


  • Power Trading CardsTaking information that you garnered from your one-on-one conversations, complete this activity to have a quick reference within your community of what stakeholders consider to be important assets.  


  • Enneagram Personality Test – The Enneagram is a personality typing test that focuses on how you interact with others and what you find important. Take this quiz individually and then discuss your findings and results with your team. Identify who among the team is best at reaching out to new people and who is best at maintaining relationships.

  • My Community WishlistUsing the Community Wishlist from Lesson 1.3: Getting Started With Others, add a fourth column that identifies who exactly in the community cares about each of the items on the wishlist to better show the importance of these items.


Here’s your chance to take some time to think and reflect on your dreams and interests. Keep a community building journal, scribble notes on some post-its, or simply think about these questions before moving on to the next lesson!

  • Reflecting on your Enneagram type (1-9), identify your strengths and weaknesses with relationship-building tasks (For example, Enneagram 2s tend to be people pleasers).

  • What are specific tasks in your community that volunteers could assist with completing?

  • What were you surprised about when conducting the one-on-one conversations exercise?

Community Development in Action

MacKenzie Walker is a community leader in Matewan, WV who utilizes the power of relationship development to harness resources and funding for the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum. Through building powerful partnerships, the City of Matewan has completed a series of small wins and met goals through a community development process, leading to larger projects currently underway. Learn more about what’s happening in Matewan in this video.

Watch this HubCAP video highlighting Matewan and their amazing work!

Ready to keep going?

Grafton couple opens their hearts – and their property – to the community

Tom and Donna Hart (left) with their family


Tom and Donna Hart, small business owners and community leaders based in Grafton, WV, recently had to temporarily close their downtown coffee shop, Espresso Yourself.

“As a mom and pop shop, we really have to consider our own personal safety as well. If one of us goes down, we would really be in trouble,” Tom shared.

But the duo didn’t allow circumstances to stop them from opening their hearts to their fellow neighbors. Tom and Donna wanted to offer folks in their community a space to cope, feel better about this constantly-evolving situation, get stronger, and escape the craziness for a while. They decided to open up their 95-acre property to their neighbors.

On the Espresso Yourself Facebook Page, Tom and Donna shared:

“We remain committed to serving our community in whatever way we can. With this in mind, we are offering free use of our outdoor facilities at Hartland Lake Marie, 35 Lake Marie Drive, for catch and release fishing, hiking and hanging about in the great outdoors. While occupying indoor spaces lends itself to the spread of the virus, fresh air, sunshine (hopefully), and exercise will help to combat it…”

Tom said, “In times like these, we need to help one another and not be selfish. This situation will pass in time. Let’s all be better for the experience.”

He also stressed the importance of strategizing to support existing small businesses in your community for the future, sharing, “Most small businesses are going to need added community and governmental support moving forward. We need to do everything possible to keep the ones we have and start some new ones.”

Although you can’t purchase a sweet latte or a classic pepperoni roll from Tom and Donna to support their business right now, you can visit them remotely on the Espresso Yourself Coffee Shop Facebook page, and, if you’re in the area, take an outdoor stroll through Hartland Lake Marie. Find Hartland Lake Marie on Facebook.

In the words of Tom and Donna: “Be kind. Be generous. Make the world a better place.”

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