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?

Community Collaborative Network

Building more intentional, strategic opportunities for networking will collectively advance the work of all people focusing on community and economic growth in West Virginia. Through the Community Collaborative Network, new partnerships are explored, individual initiatives form into system-wide efforts, and collective goals are paired with creative solutions to advance work together. 

We serve as the backbone support for the Community Collaborative Network. We help with management of the network, including offering staff support so that a set of core functions that ensure the operations and movement of the network happen regularly. We also participate in the network as a representative community development entity.

Using guidance from the network, the 15-member leading Steering Committee sets the goals, vision, and priorities and generally advances that work happening through the Community Collaborative Network. 

To learn more about what is happening with this initiative, visit their website.

How This Program Makes a Difference

Over the course of 2019-2020, we convened more than 500 participants who are advancing the work of community and economic growth in West Virginia and the surrounding region. These participants evaluated and mapped the sectors that make up the community development system and identified gaps, needs, opportunities for growth, and key partners and people involved. During this time, we continually asked participants about what value a structured network might provide and if it was worthwhile to rebuild and launch a statewide community development network. The feedback was a resounding yes.

Working together collectively helps us build strategies that can advance quickly as resources emerge. Having collaborative, bold strategies ready to go is a key way we can continue to move forward community and economic growth in West Virginia. Working together, we can support residents to excel in their efforts to create greater prosperity and well-being for all. 

To learn more about the work happening with the Community Collaborative Network, visit their website.

Questions ?

For questions and ideas about the network, email Kaycie Stushek at

Community Collaborative Network Stories