Even casual observers are familiar with Impressionism, perhaps the most famous movement in art history. Sweeping through France in 1870’s and 1880’s, names like Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Degas, and Cezanne are familiar in many households today.

The name for this movement comes from this painting by Claude Monet. “Sunrise Impression.”

Part of what makes Impressionism so famous is how radically it departed from the conventional wisdom of “The Academy”. Up until that point in art history the goal of painting had been accuracy in details. Still photos, painted in the studio, depicting a scene from a far.

Critics hated their rushed strokes, inaccurate proportions, and rough color transitions. But Impressionists didn’t care.

They weren’t trying to show you the angle that the sun rises over the harbor. They weren’t trying to accurately count the masts on these ships.

They are trying to give you an impression. A feeling. A sense that you are there. Not to capture a detailed photograph but an emotional moment. Which is how I arrive here…

Impressionism: The art of making good first impressions.

We hear a lot of chatter growing up about “making a good first impression”. We’re told it’s the key to getting a job, perhaps finding a spouse, and more.

Many parallels can be drawn but the most striking one is this.

Impressionist artists cared very little about following the established rules for painting. Instead they focused their energies on connecting with the emotions of their audience.

We can keep following the rules of networking and hope our business cards don’t get thrown in the trash, or we can go after emotions. Build relationships. Engage.

It’s certainly messy. It breaks all the rules. But it just might change the game…


I didn’t become an impressionist. As long as I can remember I always have been one.

– Claude Monet