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Staying connected, productive, and informed in a “socially distanced” world

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Staying connected, productive, and informed in a “socially distanced” world

Eric Cook by Eric Cook

Chief Digital Strategist

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Full biography

Eric considers himself a “recovering banker” of 15 years, who for the past eleven years has focused his efforts as a digital strategist, helping his clients (mostly community banks) better understand and leverage the power of the Internet as a strategic business tool. An award-winning web designer with WSI, the world’s largest digital agency network, Eric is a two-time contributing author to the best-selling book Digital Minds – 12 Things Every Business Needs to Know About Digital Marketing. Consistently rated in the top five digital marketing books on Amazon, the book is in its second edition and available in three languages.

A sought-after, nationally-recognized speaker in the financial services industry, Eric is a member of the National Speakers Association and loves sharing his knowledge to help educate and inspire others. He is the co-creator of a weekly webinar show called Free Webinar Wednesdays, founder of the Banker Education Series webinar series, and serves as a faculty member at several banking schools around the country where he teaches bankers about digital strategy, online marketing and social media. He is a WSI Certified LinkedIn Professional and holds undergraduate degrees in business administration and psychology. While working full-time as a community banker, Eric earned his MBA and completed the three-year Graduate School of Banking program in Madison, WI in 2003.

Professionally, Eric helps his clients in all areas of digital marketing, which includes mobile-responsive web development, search engine marketing and optimization, social media strategies, e-mail communication, and “big-picture” digital strategic planning. He’s the co-founder of, a service created to help businesses understand their risk when it comes to operating in today’s digital world. When he’s not helping his clients succeed online, he can typically be found on one of his many bicycles training for his next mountain bike/triathlon race or spending time with his wife and two (very spoiled) golden retrievers.



It’s no secret that today’s world is a much different place than it was only a few months ago thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic and how quickly it’s spreading from only a few cases in China earlier this year. Just goes to show you that even in the digital age when we are connected to each other on social networking sites, modern technology has made it possible for us to connect “for real” in so many other ways.

We used to think of people that stayed indoors, avoided contact with others, and played video games all day as social misfits. Now, however, that seems to be the best recommendation for the foreseeable future to keep healthy and stay safe. So let’s fire up Halo and hunker down for some “social distancing” and we’ll get through it! 

We’ve been working with a lot of our community bank customers helping to send out emails to their customers, building landing pages with information/updates, modifying their websites with alert notifications, etc. With so many people and businesses posting updates, there’s certainly no shortage of information out there. 

Zoom Offering Free Services for K-12 Schools

With schools closing down and kids having to stay at home, but most schools not prepared with the technology or budget to support remote learning, Zoom has stepped up to the plate and is offering their web conferencing service for free. This is a great move on Zoom’s part to help keep the learning process going.

While child care and working parents (if they’ve not been told to work from home already) create a new wrinkle to the story, some of the additional obstacles that may need to be addressed include Internet quality and computer availability. While the hope is this “learn from home” won’t last long, there may even be some social implications as many of the stories I’ve seen when featuring smaller children all seem to mention they will miss seeing their friends.

Read More About Zoom’s Plan

LinkedIn Offering Free LinkedIn Learning Courses 

While our office has always been “virtual” with staff working from home, many are struggling with how to remain productive when they are not at the office and need to get their work done - or worse yet - they don’t have any work to do. If you’re looking for inspiration on how to get more done while remote, LinkedIn Learning, normally reserved for their paid LinkedIn account holders, has made available several online courses to help get you in the mindset - for FREE! 

You’ll find courses on working remotely, time management and productivity tips, how to conduct video conference calls, and much more. From what I can see there are a total of 16 online courses, and the cool part about LinkedIn learning is that once you complete a course, you can add that to your profile as evidence of your training and newfound knowledge. 

Check Out LinkedIn Learning Courses

New York Times Un-Gates Coronavirus Content

While there are a lot of free news sources out there, many like the quality of the New York Times. If you want to read full articles, you will need to buy a subscription and pay $2/month (regularly $4.25). If you like the news, and I know many who do, that’s well worth the investment. But for the time being, they are making ALL of their Coronavirus content available for free and removing it from behind the paywall to help keep the public educated. Download the app and take the news with you to keep informed, even when you’re on the go. 

Visit the NY Times

Google and Microsoft Giving Away Enterprise Conferencing Tools

Here at WSI we don’t have a shortage of ways to connect with each other (remember, we’re virtual and if we want to get together, chances are it’s going to be on our computer or mobile device). We use services like GoToMeeting, Hangouts/Meet, Skype and WhatsApp on a daily basis. Some of these are free (like Skype and WhatsApp) and others we pay for. 

As a GSuite shop, we run on Google’s business platform for mail and calendar. I’m even typing this original post on Google Docs so that our team can collaborate (and fix my typos) before publishing it online. What we don’t have, however, is their Enterprise plan for us to be able to record meetings using their Meet (Hangouts) service - until now. They announced recently they are making this feature free for all users (normally only available if you're paying $25/user per month for their premium level plan). Additionally, the folks at Microsoft are providing a free six-month upgrade to their premium tier of Microsoft Teams.

Read About Google and Microsoft’s Efforts

Don’t Forget... You Can Go Live!

As the social distancing keeps us from being “with” each other, many of the social networks like Facebook, Twitter (Periscope), even LinkedIn now, offer free “live video” options for you to communicate in real time. Video, especially live video, is a great way to reassure your customers (and employees) of how you’re handling things, what services you are still able to offer, and a great way to build conversation and keep connected - even when you’re at home. The best part, you can use these services for free!

Keep Up With The Real News

While there’s a lot of information flying around social media in light of the craziness, it’s important that you’re looking to the facts of what’s really going on. We recommend you follow the WHO (World Health Organization) and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) for the most current and accurate information online. 

Stay safe and healthy out there! As the video below shares… In addition to an official Coronavirus Update sent to all of our customers the week of March 9th, here are five tips to help you remain safe and healthy:

  1. Stay home if you’re not feeling well. Don’t go out and run the risk of infecting others. Even if you don’t have the virus, if you’re not feeling well your weakened state can make you more susceptible to getting infected.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially if you haven't washed your hands for a while. This is one of the most common ways to spread the virus, so avoid touching anything from the neck up! 
  3. Wash your hands with soap and warm water frequently. That means you wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry (for no less than 20 seconds).
  4. When #3 is not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. While it’s not as good as a full wash, in a pinch a good hand sanitizer will help. 
  5. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. This is good advice at any time, but even more so given the current situation.

Finally, don’t hesitate to reach out to us if we can be of service in any way. Even if you’re not a customer, that’s ok. If you need help, don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll do what we can to lend a hand! 


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