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What is Slack Connect and how do you use it?

Slack includes a very handy feature for those who need to connect with people outside of your company. Find out what Slack Connect is and how it can be used to expand your collaborative reach.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Reviewed by Min Shin
A woman using her laptop in a busy cafe.
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 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.

Also: How to use Slack's huddle feature (and why you should)

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.

Also: Remote work habits are changing again

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.

The Slack Connect entry in the Slack left sidebar.

Slack Connect is available for all plan tiers.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

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. 

The Slack Connect window.

Slack Connect is quite simple to use.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Send the invite

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

Also: The best collaboration apps: Top team tools

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.

The Slack Connect DM invite window.

Type the email address of the person to be invited and click Send Invitation.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Create a Slack Connect channel

If you click Create a Channel, a pop-up window will appear where you must give the channel a name, and have the options of adding a description and setting the channel to private. Once you've created the channel, the user invite pop-up will appear. Type a name and click Add to send the recipient an invite to the channel. A final pop-up 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.

The Slack Connect Create Channel window.

Creating a Slack Connect channel is fast and easy.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

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. 

Also: How to make meetings effective and useful: 6 ways to actually get stuff done 

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

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