Lori Craig

My Toughest Challenge


Position: Senior vice president and market executive

Company: PNC Wealth Management

What it does: PNC Wealth Management, a branch of Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services, offers wealth management and financial planning consulting services, strategies and products for individuals, families and businesses.

Career: Craig has served as senior vice president and market executive at PNC since 2010. She previously served as senior vice president and wealth strategist at Chicago-based Northern Trust in Milwaukee. She has worked in the financial services industry for more than 30 years.

Craig Credit: Lila Aryan

The challenge

“In my prior position, I was commuting from Milwaukee to Chicago and my responsibility in wealth management was to bring in new business. Because I was covering both Wisconsin and Chicago, I was trying to build a network in both states in order to bring in business in both markets.”

Ten years ago, Craig thought the best approach to building her professional networks was to gather as many contacts as possible. She was connecting with two or three people in the law, accounting and insurance industries per day, introducing herself to new contacts and reconnecting with previous contacts via email, phone and networking events.

“My tactic, I realized after a few months, was not effective. I was putting in a lot of time and energy and I wasn’t getting any referrals back from all this activity.”

The resolution

“My mentor at the time sat down with me and told me I was doing too much. I never had a boss or mentor say I was working too much, but he told me that I don’t need volume of contacts, but quality of contacts.”

Craig narrowed down her professional network and decided to build deeper, more personal connections with her most prioritized contacts: previously established connections and clients of her then-employer.

“It was very effective. (My contacts) began to get to know me as a person and I got to know them. It built a more authentic bridge between us and within six months, there was a significant increase in the number of referrals I received.”

The takeaway

Years later, Craig still uses this strategy to build her own network, and as a leader, she also uses it to help her team members achieve the same results.

“If I see one of my employees frantically getting in 80 or 90 appointments a month and not getting anywhere, I sit down with them and discuss who they are calling on and what they know about them.”

In a digitally-connected work world, Craig believes developing deeper connections with valuable contacts through personal interaction is both personally rewarding and necessary to growing a business.

“Know your goals and what you are trying to accomplish and make sure your activities support those goals, both short-term and long-term.”  n

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Maredithe has covered retail, restaurants, entertainment and tourism since 2018. Her duties as associate editor include copy editing, page proofing and managing work flow. Meyer earned a degree in journalism from Marquette University and still enjoys attending men’s basketball games to cheer on the Golden Eagles. Also in her free time, Meyer coaches high school field hockey and loves trying out new restaurants in Milwaukee.

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