Building Communities and Networks


  • Time Frame: 2.5 or 3 hours. Longer time for more participants.
  • Suggested number of participants: 6-18
  • Materials needed: Blank thank you note cards [do I include worksheets here?]
  • Room Setup: tables of 4-6
Download the Curriculum

Relationships matter. Communities, networks, and mentoring relationships are all essential for developing as a leader and having impact. However, we don’t often take the time to think strategically about our relationships and be intentional about how to be generous in the relationships we do have.

This workshop begins with why networks, communities, and mentors matter. It then quickly shifts to tools for thinking through your network and community, identifying mentors, and keeping network connections strong.

  • What is the value of a community and network for leadership?
  • Who is in your network? How are you connected to them? Why do you value these relationships?
  • What skills/competencies/perspectives are you interested in developing, and who can help you do so?
  • How do you keep connected and be of help to people in your community and network?
Facilitator Outcomes Participants will be able to:
  1. Introduce the perspective that a vibrant network and community is essential for developing as a leader, having impact, and making progress in one’s career. Clarify the idea that being generous in these relationships is important for transformational work.
Describe why relationships matter for leadership, careers, and impact and express understanding that generosity in relationships is helpful in this work.
  1. Describe the process of drawing one’s network and give participants the opportunity to practice.
Visualize their own key relationships and networks and recognize important connections, missing links, and useful patterns.
  1. Provide an overview of thinking through mentoring relationships starting from the perspective of skills/capacity development and have students work through a structure process from this perspective. Facilitate conversation about this process.
Articulate skills/capacities they would like to develop and identify potential people who could be mentors for developing these skills/capacities.
  1. Facilitate conversation about strategies for following up on connections and maintaining relationships. Have students write a thank you note.
Discuss ways to keep vibrant network connections and use the tool of writing a thank you note.
  1. Build a community in the room and demonstrate the idea that everyone has something to give through sharing activity.
Recognize that they have many things to offer others in their networks and community and practice doing so.
  1. Debrief workshop and ask students to commit to an action to work on their community/network/mentoring relationships.
Propose an action step or two to improve network relationships.

Workshop Materials


    Sample Agenda

    1:30 – 1:45 Introductions & Why Are You Here?

    • Why are you here?
    • What are some skills you want to develop?
    • What are your biggest challenges in cultivating a network?
    1:45 – 1:55 Why Networks Matter

    • Insert personal story about how a network helped you (ex: How I got my first job)
    • People care about others
    • We can’t all be experts at everything
      • Healthy ecosystems
      • Getting work done through networks
    • This is something you need to cultivate before you really need it. It makes that cultivation more genuine and less scary
      • Insert personal story
    • This is a mind set and way of approaching the world. It’s something you can develop and practice. And, once you start doing it, you might just enjoy it!
    1:55– 2:15 Mapping Your Network-Activity

    Every once in awhile I like to draw my network. This is not a science. It just helps me see who is in it, where I have strengths, how they are connected to each other. I intentionally don’t ask you to do this in one way.

    • Who are you connected to?
      • Friendships
      • Family
      • Work Colleagues
      • Volunteer or community organizations
    • Why do you value this relationship?
    2:15-2:35 Thinking Through Mentors-Activity

    • How are you interested in developing
      • What kind of people would work best for these skills
      • Who from your above network could you more actively cultivate as a mentor?
    • Think about aspirational networking, role models, and peer networking/coaching
    2:35-2:45 Break



    Following up with connections – Presentation/Discussion

    • How could you be useful to the people in your network?
    • How can you pay it forward?
    • Writing a thank you note/connection note.

    Let’s practice as a group. What do you need and what do you offer?

    2 minutes each

    You’ll need to be pretty strict with this one.


    What will you commit to?

    What worked/what didn’t?

    Pre-Workshop Email
    We recommend sending out the pre-workshop email one-week before and a short follow-up two days before the workshop. This workshop does not require any pre-work before the workshop, but you could include a link to a TED Talk to help prime students for the workshop experience.

    Here’s an example:

    Dear Workshop Participants:

    Thank you for signing up for the Building Communities and Networks workshop. The workshop will take place in the Learning and Environmental Sciences Building on the St. Paul campus from 1:30-4 p.m. in R-380 on Thursday.

    Workshop Description:
    Mentors, collaborators, colleagues, teams, networks. Leaders, by definition, don’t work alone. Collaborating with others helps us get things done. This workshop will focus on why networks matter, why communities matter and why mentors matter. You’ll acquire new tools to help you think through your own relationships and how to make them better.

    Please let me know if you are unable to attend by simply changing your response in the Google calendar invite by noon tomorrow. This will help us be better stewards of the environment by printing the right amount of materials.

    There is no pre-work required for this workshop. You will need a pen. If you have time, I recommend watching this TED Talk by Jessica Posner on how they built community in Kibera- one of the poorest areas in Kenya ( It’s less than 10 minutes long.

    I look forward to meeting with you on Thursday,

    *Please note, that in the future, Boreas will be charging students who do not show up to workshops. Please be mindful in your RSVP. It helps us save resources and allows other students to attend who we may have turned away.

    1. Post-workshop handouts
    2. Post-workshop email
    3. Survey example


    Bennett, M. J. (2004). Becoming interculturally competent. Toward multiculturalism: A reader in multicultural education, 2, 62-77.

    Deardorff, D. K. (2010). A comparative analysis and global perspective of regional studies on intercultural competence.

    Giles, S. (2016). The most important leadership competencies, according to leaders around the world. Harvard Business Review. Online.

    Hammer, M. R., Bennett, M. J., & Wiseman, R. (2003). Measuring intercultural sensitivity: The intercultural development inventory. International journal of intercultural relations, 27(4), 421-443.

    Hofstede, G., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (1991). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind (Vol. 2). London: McGraw-Hill.

    House, R. J., Hanges, P. J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., & Gupta, V. (Eds.). (2004). Culture, leadership, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. Sage publications.

    Javidan, M., Dorfman, P. W., De Luque, M. S., & House, R. J. (2006). In the eye of the beholder: Cross cultural lessons in leadership from Project GLOBE. The academy of management perspectives, 20(1), 67-90.


    News Articles
    Banish the Swarm:

    Cultural Dimensions Videos
    Short two-minute videos on different cultural dimensions:

    The Danger of a Single Story-TED Talk
    Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
    Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions Website
    Compare the cultural dimensions of different countries by using this interactive site.
    Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI)
    View research and sample reports on the IDI.
    Intercultural Knowledge and Competence Value Rubric
    Developed by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, through a process that examined many existing campus rubrics and related documents for each learning outcome and incorporated additional feedback from faculty.

    Attending Boreas workshops has allowed me to learn and implement several valuable leadership tools in an increasingly connected world and how to present myself in a professional manner on paper, online, and in person.


    Melaney Dunne

    Master's Student Conservation Biology