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?

Grow your organization’s capacity and improve your community with an AmeriCorps VISTA

Zach Rissman served as the Community Development Network VISTA at The Hub.


At The Hub, we believe in the power of community service. Leaders in our communities across the state move forward the work of making their communities a better place to be in incredible ways every day. 

It is important, now more than ever, for us to support communities and organizations that are seeking to grow their capacity and improve their economic opportunities. We think the programs that are working to lift West Virginians out of poverty are worth investing in. And we believe that building capacity and sustainability in those programs is one of the most effective forms of investment. This is why The Hub has hosted an AmeriCorps VISTA program for the past several years. 

AmeriCorps shares our philosophy of creating new economic opportunities, and focuses on five other key areas of work: healthy futures, education, environmental stewardship, disaster responses, and veterans and military families. We partner with communities and organizations across the state to build projects that address these areas. If your organization works on one of these focus areas, and you need to grow your capacity, applying to host an AmeriCorps member from The Hub’s VISTA Program could be right for you!

For a small administrative fee, an AmeriCorps member in our VISTA program could further sustainable and impactful change in your community. AmeriCorps members who serve in our VISTA program commit to one year of service with a nonprofit or government entity, serving full time to build a program’s capacity and sustainability. Members are paid a living stipend from AmeriCorps and become eligible to receive an education award or cash stipend upon completion of service. 

We help our VISTA Subsites apply for their project, assist in the member recruitment process, train our subsites and members, provide support throughout the 1-3 year long project, and create an effective and supportive culture to ensure you are getting the most out of your member’s service. 

We are looking to welcome a handful of new projects in 2021. If you are interested in hosting an AmeriCorps member in your community, contact me, Erin Susman at for an application, or for any questions you may have!

Erin Susman is The Hub’s Operations and AmeriCorps VISTA Program Manager. Reach her at

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