Menna Riley from Leading Ladies Networking

Meet Menna!

With over 20 years’ experience delivering effective, unforgettable events for her clients, Menna is most passionate about creating and delivering experiences that transform, inform, engage and get her client’s real results.


She founded Leading Ladies Networking in 2012 and it has been going strong ever since, elevating the overall networking landscape for women in business in Nova Scotia. After countless testimonials from women who’ve attended her events, she can happily say she’s facilitated hundreds of connections, collaborations, opportunities and relationships.

Tell us a bit about what you do and what you offer within your business.

I’m an Event Strategist, which means I set measurable goals and key outcomes for events to drive loyalty, retention and referrals for businesses and organizations. So they see real results for their events vs ‘let’s just have a party’s.

Another aspect of what I do as a Networking Coach is both public speaking to help everyone ‘up’ their networking game, but also am the proud founder and host of Leading Ladies Networking, going strong in Halifax since January 2012.


When did you start your journey as an entrepreneur?

I’d say I was a born entrepreneur (and my family would agree) but it all really became clear in high school when I took an Entrepreneurship class and partook in Junior Achievement.


What motivated you to want to start your business?

At the very start of my career, I landed my first jobs: a year-long contract working in the PR & Sponsorship division for RBC, and then got to work on the event management team on Tall Ships 2000. Once I had a taste of working freelance contracts I was hooked!


When you first started did you have any big fears and how did you overcome them?

I’ll confess to having the same fear throughout my entire career: while I’m still working on ‘Contract A’, how will I land ‘Contract B’ with no time to spare in between so I can still pay my bills and keep doing what I love on my terms?

How I combat this fear is by staying as actively engaged in the networking scene as possible. When people see you, you’re more likely to come to mind the next time they’re looking for a solution to something you offer.


How has your business changed and evolved since you started?

How I word my contracts has evolved along with the industry, which is a combination of 20+ years experience as well as venues and catering companies requiring full payment on or before the event date. This prevents them from being ‘stiffed’ if they have to put all the work in but the event gets cancelled. That goes even more so for me as all my work takes place up-front. I develop payment plans with clients that work for both of us.

Also, technology has come so far in the past 20 years, and as a self-identifying nerd for all things events & technology, I can integrate mostly free and low-cost tech to bring save time and costs for my clients. Nothing makes me happier than a happy client!


What keeps you motivated and moving forward?

I love creating strategic, unique, tailored, unforgettable and successful experiences for my clients. I don’t think anything compares to that feeling when you actually are doing what you would do even if you didn’t need the money – executing your passion and making a living, what could be better?


What’s the most important thing you’ve learned so far in your business that you wish you would have known in the start?

You don’t have to do it alone!! I have built up a network of talented, supportive and diverse leaders that I like to call my business besties. I wish I had figured that one out sooner!


What would you want to tell someone who was just starting out, or thinking about starting out a new business?

  1. Do your research.
  2. Connect with organizations designed to support you like CEED, &


What has been your most difficult hurdle during your entrepreneurial journey?

Managing the extremely busy times as well as the not-so-busy times is imperative, especially when you’re a solopreneur.


What helped you get through it?

Calling on business besties in my network to help support the busier times and contracts, and calling on that same network to help me with contract leads when I know I have an upcoming gap in my calendar between contracts.


What has been the most satisfying moment in your business and why?

Getting those sincere thank yous after delivering on a challenging project. Who am I kidding, every event has its challenges! Honestly, I do it all to see the looks on their faces at the event, and in that case, every single event is satisfying.


What book or books have made a strong difference in your life and/or business?

I read a lot. Case studies, books, videos, podcasts, infographics and blogs – I focus on event industry trends, marketing, technology, engagement and sponsorships. The more I know the more I can offer – so if you catch me away on vacation, you can bet your burritos you won’t catch me reading fiction.


Who are you the most inspired by and how does it impact your business choices?

Definitely my fellow business besties… They challenge and support me every day and most of all they inspire me!! I study their successes and processes to determine the smartest way through any challenges I come across – and they do it without consideration of reciprocity, it’s all about lifting each other up so that we’re all in a better place at the end of the day.


If you could make one wish for your future self, what would it be?

That I am able to leverage every opportunity that arises in the coming years to the best of my ability. I’d love to make as much of an impact on paving the way for event experiences to be the number one marketing solution for Atlantic Canadian companies.


What’s something quirky that most people wouldn’t know about you?

If anyone has ever seen me speak in public you’ll already know that I’m an 80s/90s kid (which is more than evident by my pop cultural references). Go Beastie Boys!

Menna Riley from Leading Ladies Networking

Connect With Menna

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Contact Menna to find out how events can help your business drive client loyalty, retention and referrals.