What is Slack Connect and how do you use it?

A woman using her laptop in a busy cafe.

Image: Tom Werner/Getty Images

Slack has become the de facto standard for business communication and collaboration. Teams use Slack to chat with one another, share files, comment on threads, and for a host of other tasks. For the most part, you tend to communicate and collaborate with others in your organization — your fellow project team members, managers, and other departments.

But what happens when you need to bring an outsider into your Slack workspace? Does your Slack admin let them in as a regular member? Probably not, as that could lead to privacy or security issues. Instead, you take advantage of a feature called Slack Connect.

Slack Connect allows individuals or teams to work with people outside of your organization.

Those who are a part of Slack Connect can join channels and even DM users within the organization. You can connect up to 250 different organizations to the same Slack channel.

With Slack Connect, you create a channel and then invite other companies to join in. That feature requires a Slack Pro account. With a free Slack account, you can only start a direct message via Slack Connect. Regardless of which you use, those you invite will only have access to either the specific channel or the direct message. Once you’ve added people or organizations to Slack Connect, you will be able to interact with them as you would with anyone in your organization.

There are a few points to consider about Slack Connect:

  • Each organization must have a paid Slack plan.
  • People can be added to other channels by other team members of your organization.
  • People from different organizations can send DMs.
  • For Group DMs, everyone in the conversation must be in at least one channel together.

It’s an elegant solution to an annoying problem. Let me show you how to use Slack Connect.

What is Slack Connect and how do you use it?

1. Log in to Slack

The first thing you must do is log in to your Slack account. Once you’ve logged in, you should see Slack Connect listed in the left sidebar. Click that entry to reveal the Slack Connect window.

2. Start a direct message or create a channel

From the Slack Connect window, click either Start a Direct Message or Create a Channel. I’ll demonstrate with a Direct message.

3. Send the invite

Click Start a Direct Message and a popup will appear where you must type an email address for the person you wish to invite. Click Send Invitation.

You will then have to wait for the recipient to open the email and accept the invitation. You will get a notification within Slack to indicate the invite was accepted.

4. Create a Slack Connect channel

If you click Create a Channel, a popup window will appear where you must give the channel a name, an optional description, and optionally set the channel to private. Once you’ve created the channel, the user invite popup will appear. Type a name and click Add to send the recipient an invite to the channel. A final popup will appear asking what the user should be able to do. Select either Can Post & Invite or Can Only Post. Click Next and then Send Invitation.

Slack Connect is much easier to use than it might seem. Just think of it as a way to connect outside organizations within your own, using a Slack channel or direct message.

Any company that needs to collaborate with outside organizations will find this feature a must-use.

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