Citrin-Cooperman--Leaders in Professional Services & Industry Insights. Learn More.
Biographies Business Development Current Issue

Master Networker

Master Networker-Brian Rabinovitz thrives on being around people. And he’s made an art of generating business as a result.
Written by Jerri Hemsworth

Brian Rabinovitz thrives on being around people. And he’s made an art of generating business as a result.

Do you know Brian Rabinovitz?”

I turn my chair to face a colleague standing in the doorway of my office. “I’ve heard his name, but I don’t know him.”

“You gotta meet this guy. He’s amazing. He’s so connected. He knows everybody. This guy sends me personal texts and messages on holidays. Who does that?? I’m just one of hundreds of people he knows. Where does he have the time to do the personal messages?”

“That’s impressive! I don’t even message my family on holidays. How do you know him?”

“I met him at The Original Mixer. We got to talking, and he walked me over to a guy he said I had to meet. He’s a pro at making connections.”

Three weeks later, I sat across from Brian at lunch. I was immediately at ease with him. He was not uptight or nervous. Very warm and brotherly.

“How ya doin? Nice to meet you in person.” Big smile. Big hug. His accent sounds a mash-up of Boston / New York / New Jersey?

Our lunch is easy. Like we’ve known each other for years. Then he does something that I’ve since come to learn is a classic Rabinovitz move. “What are you doing next Wednesday night? I’ve got an Impromptu Mixer in Calabasas. You need to come.”

Unsure of my schedule, I take out my phone to check my calendar. “I’m clear.” In seconds, he texts me the info.  

“Just bring a bottle of good wine. I’ll introduce you around.” And that is exactly what he did.

On His Beginnings and Accent

Brian grew up approximately 10 miles north of Boston in a town called Stoneham. He quickly flies into his best Boston accent. 

“Things were wicked smaht. And I pocked my car. I went to college, and my roommates were Mock and Bahb. I’ll never forget the first time I asked [about the party location], ‘Oh, where’s the potty?’ My accent was that bad. But it was cute. A lot of the girls liked it. So I was happy with that. But after a certain number of years in Long Island, New York, I began over-pronouncing my ‘Rs.’ Now, after one drink people ask, ‘What part of Canada are you from?’”

As a kid, math and numbers always came easy for him. He worked for his father at an ambulance company doing bookkeeping-type work at the age of 12. He really enjoyed it.

His parents didn’t want him to leave the Boston area for college. They even offered to buy him a new car so he could commute into the city for school. But his sights were set on Hofstra, on Long Island, which at
the time was seventh in the nation
for accounting. “For some reason I liked numbers, and I knew I wanted to be an accountant. So that was the perfect fit for me.” 

On Being Connected

Rabinovitz is a master at networking. He attends five events a week on average, making connections, being connected, checking in with colleagues and friends. He reminds me of Davis Blaine, co-founder of Provisors. Humans like Brian and Davis are rare. They thrive on being around people and are at complete ease in rooms filled with strangers. That’s because they aren’t strangers for long. Pretty guaranteed they will walk out of that room having made numerous connections with others and for others. Brian has a natural energy that makes most of us look like slugs. 

“I’ve always been this way. In college, I was involved in my fraternity as the social chair, planned parties and things like that. And then, after graduating college and becoming an auditor, the first thing the firm did was send me out to clients. So I would be in Atlanta, Georgia for two weeks. Then I’d be in Houston. Then I would go to Ithaca, New York. And when I went to these places, I had some staff or partners with me. But I would just go out and become friends with all the people at the companies I was auditing. And then I would meet other people in certain areas and just loved the people. And I really got used to going places by myself.”

“When I was in my mid-20s, I was sent to Zurich, Switzerland, by myself for three to four weeks at a time. I wouldn’t make friends there. And then I learned that if you turn to the left, turn to the right, say ‘Hello.’ If you’re at a bar or at a restaurant, or if you’re on an escalator, just turn around and say hello to somebody. Even if you’re at a conference. Everybody wants to be more sociable and meet people. It’s very easy, but you just have to have confidence in yourself to do it.”

Overall, Brian was an auditor for nearly 30 years for a few firms. “Yeah, audit to me was exciting back in the day. I went out, visited clients, and got to really know them. I got to know their business as well as them on a personal side because I spent a lot of time with them.”

At the age of 32, it was time for a change. “I had the opportunity to come out to Southern California for six months to run an office. I didn’t know many people, and loved it out here. The weather, all of that. After six months, I left the bi-coastal firm and became a partner at Stonefield Josephson. They gave me an opportunity to grow. And it was wonderful. I got invited to a 10-person Monday-night guys dinner group. And from there, I kept inviting more people because I was young. And I love meeting people, and I wanted to introduce them to others. I grew that networking group into a monthly mixer. We would get 70–80 people together each month. And now it’s grown—20 years later—to The Original Mixer with 250 people at the Luxe Hotel on Sunset. Just being able to make new contacts, meet up with people that you haven’t done business with in a while and reconnect. That’s what it’s all about.” 

The Original Mixer is a unique type of event. Professionals “sponsor” tables and each bring various bottles of wine or liquor. Some bring food. People mingle casually around the room sampling various wines, bourbon, tequila, while chatting and connecting. Brian makes sure there is some type of activity that engages people, such as a roaming social media photographer. It’s truly a fun event.

“It is fun for me because I get to bring people together. I’m usually walking around the room and just looking to introduce to people that could have synergies. And that’s the most important thing. There’s a lot of time in business that you have a direct referral from someone or for somebody, but many times you don’t. But if I can introduce people to like-minded individuals, that’s what  I find fabulous. And the amount of deals that have happened at The Original Mixer, the amount of clients that I’ve attained, the amount of clients that I have introduced to other people and that have hired other service providers, or even raised capital, has been incredible.”

On Business Development

In 2019, Brian was head of audit and accounting for a firm called LGSH. It was a 70-person firm that got acquired by Citrin Cooperman. Brian became in-charge of business development for the West Coast. He brought in business that included traditional audit and tax compliance work as well as general business management and clients in need of tax merger acquisition advisory. Early in 2024, Brian separated from Citrin and re-engaged in his own consulting practice, Proactive Professional Solutions, Inc. His firm specializes in assisting companies with the audit preparation process and financial statement readiness. “Our main goal is to provide a service to support companies through their audits, reviews, financial statement reporting process and merger and acquisition transactions. Our team consists of professionals with hands-on management and technical experience. Our professionals have the passion, drive and commitment that will help lead to your company’s success.”

On Family and Friends

In nearly every conversation that Brian has, there are three words that are ALWAYS mentioned: “my daughter” and “my son.” As a doting single dad, he is never far from his kids, mentally or emotionally. His son is in college in Florida majoring in finance. His daughter is here in California finishing up high school. When asked if he finds parenting difficult, he’s quick to respond.

“Parenthood is easy. I was divorced when my kids were young. I had them 50% of the time and just cherished every moment that I could. I did everything that goes into being a dad for them. And when I did Indian Guides and Den Princesses or when I coached basketball, I formed relationships with the other parents as well as the kids. And I treat those people the same way as anybody else. I’ll give the shirt off my back to help them succeed in business. And I became close friends with them. It was just incredible, especially coaching sports. Coaching the kids at such a young age as they grew up with my children, it’s just fabulous.”

“My family, my kids, are everything. And I find the people I get along with the most are those who have a tremendous relationship with their family, with their kids, with their spouse. I want to be around those people because they have the morals that I like to be around.”

Things To Know About Rabinovitz

Brian is truly a force of energy to be reckoned with. His reputation for connecting professionals is what got him where he is today. Yet he wants to be clear about what he finds most important in his life. People may question whether he has any ability to do actual “accounting work” other than biz dev. Talking with him for any length of time, one will quickly discover that his accounting intelligence, ability to give and devotion to his family is readily apparent.

“A lot of people only saw me as head of business development for Citrin. That was for the last two to three years. But for more than 30 years, I was behind the desk doing the work. Previously, before working for Citrin, I was head of accounting and audit for a 70-person firm and reviewed files and financial statements before they went out. So that is my first and foremost ability. And that’s where my consulting firm Proactive focuses its efforts. 

“People should know that this whole ‘biz dev thing’ is not all about myself. You have to give to get. And that is a very important aspect in the business world.”  

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.