The man to know Featured

9:56am EDT July 22, 2002

George Fraser has made a pretty good career out of power networking. Several years ago, he began publishing “Success Source,” a guide to local contacts in the minority community. It succeeded so well that he branched out to publish guides in eight other cities. Black Enterprise magazine, taking note of his work, dubbed him black America’s premiere networker.

In the course of that work, Fraser has amassed a singularly impressive database of contacts, which he calls “my industrial-strength Soul-O-Dex/Rolodex.”

In his latest book, “Race for Success: The 10 Best Opportunities for Blacks in America,” published by William Morrow Co., he gives a glimpse of that list. In the dedication, he tips his hat to “those whom I have helped and/or who have helped me ... network.” But he doesn’t stop there. He goes on to list them all by name, just over 1,000 names.

The list reads like a who’s who of movers and shakers in Cleveland, with a generous sprinkling of prominent names in the national African-American and general business communities. Clevelanders he mentions include Cavs General Manager Wayne Embry, broadcasters Harry Boomer and Wayne Dawson, Cleveland Indian first baseman turned management consultant Andre Thornton and fellow inspirational author Hal Becker.

SBN publisher Fred Koury is in there, too. And he also thanks a couple of scions of prominent families, Henry Ford of the Detroit auto empire, and Jesse Jackson Jr., now a U.S. Congressman and the son of the former presidential candidate.

Lest doubters think Fraser’s networking skills are more flash than substance, consultant Bob Donaldson of Beachwood-based Delta Planning recently related a telling story about how Fraser’s wide contacts come in handy to his business friends.

Donaldson, a former McKinsey & Co. consultant who’s been hard at work on his own book about entrepreneurism, received a call from a longtime Canadian associate who was in South Africa, trying to fulfill South African President Nelson Mandela’s dream to build one million new homes for his countrymen.

The South Africans were looking for someone who might be able to establish a factory in that country to produce pre-fabricated houses. Stuck for referrals for his friend, Donaldson got hold of Fraser and asked if he had any appropriate names to pass along.

Sure enough, Fraser reached into his database and fished out a name of a contact in Atlanta, a man who was in the building business and who had been to South Africa.

Chalk up one more victory for the Soul-O-Dex.