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?

west virginians are redefining our state.
↓ scroll down to find the video documentaries ↓
mercer street grassroots district
Redefining creativity as a catalyst for change.
Watch video
the Welch News
Redefining media as the heart of the community.
Watch video
Hinton Community
Redefining local economy to rebuild for the future.
Watch video


real stories from west virginia

For too long, who and what it means to be a West Virginian has been defined for us. It’s time to redefine the Mountain State in our own words and in the eyes of the world. 

Our state is full of leaders bringing hope and opportunity. These are the stories of real West Virginians who are making a difference.

mercer street grassroots district

creativity redefined

The community in the Mercer Street Grassroots District of Princeton, WV shows how creative collaboration can be the catalyst to revitalize a rural downtown.

The Welch News

media redefined

The close-knit team behind this newspaper shows us how commitment to people and place can build the trust needed to become a 100-year guardian of local history.

Monticello ongoing revitalization effort

neighborhood redefined

A team of residents in the Monticello neighborhood of Clarksburg are proof that no matter the size of a community, collaboration and perseverance can build a beacon of hope.

the vintage theatre company

community redefined

A community doesn’t have to be tied to a single place: this dynamic group teaches us that people, united in purpose, can create a transformational impact.

Hinton Community

economy redEfined

During a time for innovation and reinvention, the community of Hinton is looking to their greatest asset – their people – to rebuild an economy for the future.

Community Case Studies

Learn how residents of 5 communities are making positive change

Montgomery - Smithers

Two towns make one community.

new martinsville

Community leaders create their own tourism opportunity.

Meadow River Valley

let's get started creating opportunities in your community.