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?

Monticello ongoing revitalization effort
neighborhood redefined
Monticello ongoing revitalization effort
neighborhood redefined
Monticello ongoing revitalization effort
neighborhood redefined
Monticello ongoing revitalization effort
neighborhood redefined

Watch the documentary

Play Video

In just a few years, the people of the Monticello neighborhood in Clarksburg, WV have dreamed, planned, and carried out a vision for a revitalized community center, the Kelly Miller Community Center. A community garden is at the heart of their work, and it serves as a place to teach, connect, and build ties with their neighbors. A Blessings Box located in the garden is always stocked with supplies to help neighbors in need. In their facility, a computer center, fitness center, auditorium, and many dedicated rooms house activities like karate classes, yoga, a book club, chess club, and special events. Community clean-ups are regularly organized to help maintain the beauty of the surrounding area.

The residents of Monticello show us that, no matter the size of a community, heart, collaboration, and perseverance can create a beacon of hope for residents.

I got involved because each person plays a part. When folks see you working so hard, a lot of times, you will pique their interest, and they will get involved.

Sherri James, program director of the Kelly Miller Community Center

even if you're part of a small team (or on your own!), you can make change for the better.

hinton community

economy redefined

mercer street grassroots district

creativity redefined