I love Christmas. I love the presents. I love the food. I love getting together with family. I love the whole thing and I have loved it my whole life.

When I was a child, Christmas was pure magic. I believed in Santa Claus and every year the lights on the tree just lifted my heart. Then I became a teenager. I still loved Christmas, but I had kind of “seen behind the curtains” and now the magic wasn’t there anymore.

This year, the magic came back.

This year, my daughter, Kaylie, had just turned six. She is old enough to think, but still young enough for magic. She stayed up to watch for Santa, set out cookies and milk, and swears that she not only heard sleigh bells, but actually saw the Man himself — obviously magical for her. It was magical for me, on the other hand, because I was a part of the magic. I helped make it happen.

This happens to us as we develop as networkers. If we are lucky when we start out, we run into a fantastic networker or two who starts connecting us with a few opportunities. We love that feeling and we wait for more of it to happen. Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t. Sooner or later, though, we begin to feel a bit jaded. Oh, we still enjoy the process of networking and the occasional opportunities it brings, but we think we’ve seen behind the curtain and that’s all there is to it.

The magic doesn’t come back until we become a part of the process. We can’t be the child receiving gifts all the time. Sooner or later, we have to give.

And that’s when we discover the real meaning of the season, er, I mean, networking.

Bob Burg, the author of “The Go-Giver“, said it quite well when he defined networking as “the process of developing long-term, mutually-beneficial, give-and-take relationships”. If we don’t have the “give” with the “take”, then there just won’t be any long-term networking magic.

Photo by Jonathan G Meath