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?

Tool: Create a Community Hashtag Campaign to Spotlight Changemakers

Facebook Posts from The Hub’s #BetheChangeWV campaign – find examples below!


Last year, we put the spotlight on 36 West Virginians who are invested in making a difference in our state’s communities through a social media hashtag campaign called #BetheChangeWV, part of our #NewStoryWV project. This is an impactful tool that we built to help lift up the voices of residents in West Virginia, and we want this tool to be in your hands too.

Now, we’re sharing 3 steps to kickstart a #BetheChangeWV campaign in your own community.

This kind of campaign can help you reach goals such as:

  • Increase community pride and raise hope
  • Shine a spotlight on the people doing good in your community, such as small business owners, community leaders, volunteers, and others
  • Attract new people online to volunteer for the work and projects you’re doing in the real world
  • Generate new and different types of posts for your social media accounts
Examples! Search #BetheChangeWV on Facebook and Instagram to see more.

When you’re sharing on social media, be sure to include the hashtags #BetheChangeWV and #NewStoryWV to join in on the statewide collaborative conversation about a new story for West Virginia. (Find more details on using hashtags at the bottom of this post!)

If you have a question about how to create a campaign like this in your community, please email me at

Step 1: Decide the type of people that you are interested in spotlighting.

Pick a group of people to highlight who share a common interest that corresponds to a goal you have or a challenge you are facing in your community.

Some examples to consider:

  • Are you interested in bringing more residents and tourists to your downtown? Considering spotlighting the business owners and people who are already there.
  • Are you looking to show off your area’s natural beauty and increase tourism? Consider spotlighting the people who are visiting those locations or have a tie to them.
  • Do you need more volunteers? Consider spotlighting the volunteers – past and present – who have been a part of your team’s work.
  • Are you interested in raising hope and building community pride? Consider the people in your community that make you hopeful and proud about living there. Think about the people who are giving back to your community. Maybe it’s the superstar volunteers who are always showing up for every event and project. Maybe it’s the small business owners who are a central part of your community’s fabric. Maybe it’s local artists, teachers, or leaders at local service organizations. Maybe it’s all of the above!
More examples! Search #BetheChangeWV on Facebook and Instagram to see more.

Step 2: Find those people. Capture a quote and a photo.

Here is a checklist of ideas to help you accomplish Step 2 – but if you have an idea for a different path, that’s great too. Mix it up to do what’s best for your community and goals.

  • Make a list of the people that you want to feature. Look back to Step 1 and make a list of all the people that fit this description in your community. Be mindful of selecting a diverse list of people. You’ll be lifting up members of your community through this campaign, and it’s important that the residents who are viewing the campaign see people like themselves represented.
  • Decide who will be capturing the quotes and photos and how you will do it. The more people you can get involved in gathering quotes and photos, the better, although at The Hub, we were able to do this with 1 person capturing the quotes and photos. You don’t need a big group to make this work happen. Make a determination about if you want to try to take your own photos, or if you want to ask people to submit photos of themselves. Taking your own photos means that you will have consistent visuals throughout your campaign, which is a nice outcome, but not necessary for success.
  • Decide 1 question to ask each person you want to feature. This question will give you the quote that you need to accompany the photo. Come up with a “Why” question for the people you want to feature. Some examples are: Why do you believe making a difference in our community is important? Why do you like visiting this (location, business, etc.) in our community? Why are you choosing to be a business owner in our community? Why do you shop locally?
  • Find the people you want to feature. Reach out to them by phone, email, or social media; or find them while you’re out and about in the community.
  • Ask the person you are featuring your 1 question and write down what they say. If the person you are featuring is having trouble answering the question, ask them to start their response by saying, “Because I believe…”
  • Take their photo or ask them to send a photo to you.
  • Bonus: Create an option to participate using video. Videos can help elevate the connection that’s created between the person who is viewing the video and the person you want to spotlight – and they can help you to get more likes and shares on social media too. Check out the work that’s happening with the West Virginia Municipal League and Mountain Craft Productions for their #TakingCareofBusinesses campaign for an example of this in action (and join in!).

Step 3: Post to social media!

Decide the best place to share these photos online. Pick 1-2 places on social media that will be the “home base” for all of the posts in your campaign.

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Facebook Pages: Think of a community group’s page, local nonprofits, tourism groups, and others who may have a page that aligns with your vision.
  • Facebook Groups: Think of local Facebook Groups with a similar vision to yours.
  • Instagram Business Pages: Think of local businesses or groups that may have an Instagram account.
  • Personal Facebook and Instagram Accounts: Use the Facebook or Instagram accounts from the individual people on your team, and/or extend the ask to others in the community to include the posts on their accounts.
Don’t forget to include hashtags when you’re posting on social media.
One more example! Search #BetheChangeWV on Facebook and Instagram to see more.
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