He'd been speaking to attendees nonstop for two days, his pockets were overflowing with business cards handed to him by professionals he'd met during this conference for African-American executives and entrepreneurs -- and there was still another day to go.
You'd think he'd be exhausted after all the handshaking but when he explained the importance of networking in the life of a corporate mover, his burst of energy revealed his passion for his work.
"Businesspeople spend 14 percent of their time developing relationships at work, home and community," he says. "Successful businesspeople spend 54 percent of their time developing their relationships at work, at home and in their community."
Fraser is the author of "Success Runs in Our Race: The Complete Guide to Effective Networking in the African American Community" and "Race For Success; The Ten Best Business Opportunities for Blacks in America," and the creator and publisher of "SuccessGuide, The Networking Guide to Black Resources."
After spending 17 years in management with Procter & Gamble, United Way and Ford, he has learned that business deals are made first on an emotional level, then backed up by facts.
"The deciding factor when doing business is, who do I like the most," he says. "You have to be nice to people, you have to smile and treat everyone with respect. You have to network up and down the chain -- from janitors to chairmen, everyone's important."
Fraser has traveled the world, speaking to about 150 groups per year, from college students to corporate professionals. He says most decision-makers tell him the hardest part of business is networking with someone you perceive can't help you.
"How do you know a person can't help you? You have to respect everybody," he says. "Building a relationship is not a waste of time on any level. Relationships can occur almost anywhere. I have formed relationships standing in an elevator."
As founder of FraserNet, an online community of the African American networking movement, Fraser recommends conferences and workshops as perfect opportunities to network. But he says many businesspeople attend without planning ahead -- they may know the topic but have no idea who will be speaking.
"You need to know who's going to be there so you can meet those people," he says. "I suggest volunteering to work at the conference, for example at the registration tables, so you can get inside access to people you might not normally get a chance to meet."
He also stresses the importance of flexibility when attending a business conference.
"My advice is, don't go to a conference with 57 buddies," he says. "An opportunity may come up to connect one-on-one with someone of a like mind, and if you have to drag 57 buddies along, you'll have a problem. If you go to a conference by yourself, you'll have more flexibility if the opportunity presents itself."
Above all, Fraser believes decision-makers should put more emphasis on effective networking because "life is about relationships. If you have no relationships, you have no business." How to reach: FraserNet, http://frasernet.com
Ford's "Virtuous Circle"
Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford had a controversial idea in the early 20th century -- equal pay for equal work.
It was a concept that encouraged the migration of African-Americans from the rural South to the industrial North. George Frame, executive director, dealer development at Ford, says creating a diverse work force is an ongoing goal at Ford through its two-tiered program.
He says through Ford's 300-plus minority suppliers in the United States, it sources $3.2 billion in goods and services, which is the first tier. For the second tier, those suppliers source $1.2 billion in goods and services to other minority suppliers. This equals $4.4 billion in the hands of minority suppliers .
"We haven't lost anything by funding these programs; we've created an industry of individuals who take profits from their business and then hire people from their communities who spend money in their communities," Frame says.
He calls it "The Virtuous Circle."
"It's about reciprocity, reinvesting in the community, keeping money in minority communities and creating wealth. Many companies are waking up to the fact that the economic boom will come from ethnic minorities," Frame says.
Ford understands that. Minority dealers make up 5 percent of the industry average; at Ford, 7 percent of dealers are minorities. That's 370 dealers and more than 39,000 jobs.
Ford teamed up with FraserNet for the "Empowerment Through Entrepreneurship" symposium at the second annual PowerNetworking Conference in Cleveland. This is the fourth year Ford has showcased this symposium at an African-American regional convention. How to reach: Ford Supplier Development programs, www.fordmsd.com; Ford Dealer Development programs, www.dd.ford.com