Identifying, Recruiting, and Developing Leadership: We build relationships with potential collaborators to explore values, learn about resources, discern common purpose, and find others with whom leadership responsibility can be shared.
Building Community: Leaders, in turn, continually reach out to others, form relationships with them, expand the circle of support, grow more resources that they can access, and recruit people who, in turn, can become leaders themselves.
Turning Resources into Power: Relationship building doesn’t end when action starts. Commitment is how to access resources for organizing – especially when you come up against competition, internal conflict, or external obstacles. Commitment is based on relationships, which must be constantly, intentionally nurtured. The more others find purpose in joining with you the more they will commit resources that you may never have known they had.
Relationships are rooted in shared values. We can identify values that we share by learning each other’s stories, especially ‘choice points’ in our life journeys. The key is asking “why.”
Relationships grow out of exchanges of interests and resources. Your resources can address my interests; my resources can address your interests. The key is identifying interests and resources. This means that relationships are driven as much by difference as by commonality. Our common interest may be as narrow as supporting each other in pursuit of our individual interest, provided they are not in conflict. Organizing relationships are not simply transactional. We’re not simply looking for someone to meet our “ask” at the end of a one-to-one meeting or house meeting. We’re looking for people to join with us in long-term learning, growth and action.
Relationships are created by commitment. An exchange becomes a relationship only when each party commits a portion of their most valuable resource to it: time. A commitment of time to the relationship gives it a future and, therefore, a past. And because we can all learn, grow, and change, the purposes that led us to form the relationship may change as well, offering possibilities for enriched exchange. In fact the relationship itself may become a valued resource – what Robert Putnam calls “social capital.”
Relationships involve constant attention and work. When nurtured over time, relationships become an important source of continual learning and development for the individuals and communities that make up your campaign. They are also a great source for sustaining motivation and inspiration.
Building Intentional Relationships: The One-on-One Meeting
One way to initiate intentional relationships is the one-on-one meeting, a technique developed by organizers over many years. A one-on-one meeting consists of five “acts”:
Attention – We have to get another person’s attention to conduct a one-on-one meeting. Don’t be “coy”. Be as up front as you can be about what your interest is in the meeting, but that first, you’d like it take a few moments to get acquainted. Interest – There must be a purpose or a goal in setting up a one-on-one meeting. It could range from, “I’m starting a new network and thought you might be interested” to “I’m struggling with a problem and I think you could help” or “I know you have an interest in X so I’d like to discuss that with you.”
Exploration – Most of the one-on-one is devoted to exploration by asking probing questions to learn the other person’s values, interests, and resources and by sharing enough of your own values, interests, and resources that it can be a two-way street.
Exchange – We exchange resources in the meeting such as information, support, and insight. This creates the foundation for future exchanges. Commitment –A successful one on one meeting ends with a commitment, most likely to meet again. By scheduling a specific time for this meeting, you make it a real commitment. The goal of the one-on-one is not to get someone to make a pledge, to give money, to commit his or her vote as it is to commit to continuing the relationship.