Members of different teams work together from different windows, representing Slack workspaces
Collaboration

How to get started with Slack Connect

Cut response times, loop in anyone you need, and finish projects faster by working with external partners in Slack

By the team at SlackMarch 24th, 2021Illustration by Francesco Ciccolella

If your organization is using Slack today, you’ve likely experienced how channels bring the right people together to share ideas, make decisions and quickly move work forward. But what happens when you’re working with someone new, like a sales prospect, and you don’t have a channel established? This often means reverting to phone calls, emails and other forms of intermittent, siloed communication—unless you and your partner both use Slack.

Slack Connect is a faster, more secure way to work than emailing people outside your company. It’s the same Slack you use every day, but with people outside of your workspace.

Simply send an invite to any partner and start messaging in Slack as soon as the other side accepts. If you need a dedicated space for planning projects and looping in others, create channels between organizations, where members of invited organizations can freely come and go as needed.

Let’s walk through how to get started with Slack Connect direct messages and Slack Connect channels, and then discuss when you’d use one over the other.

Getting started with Slack Connect DMs

In the beginning stages of the relationship, when you want a faster way to follow up on questions and work side-by-side with an outside partner, Slack Connect DMs are the most useful way to create that connection.

Step 1: Find a use case that works for you

No matter your role, we all rely on external partners to get work done. To that end, here are a few scenarios where you can speed up communication via Slack Connect DMs.

  • Sales reps: Send a message right after you get off the phone with a potential customer to answer any follow-up questions
  • Product managers: Share a quick prototype with a customer following a feedback call
  • Customer service agents: Gather ongoing feedback, share screenshots, and ask for details to help solve thorny problems together
  • Marketers: Quickly exchange ideas with your creative agency

As relationships and the scope of projects grow, you can move work out of DMs and into channels. Members of your team can collaborate with a partner or customer’s team, loop in the right people on an as-needed basis, and build a collective repository of knowledge that anyone can add to and reference. This way, everyone can find answers, get context and make faster decisions without having to chase down people or information.

Step 2: Send an invite to direct message

Slack Connect tab in the Slack desktop app sidebarClick Slack Connect on your sidebar, and you’ll see options to create a new channel or start a new direct message. Add your collaborator’s email address, and send your first message welcoming them and describing what you’d like to accomplish.

 

A Slack Connect direct message invitation

Once your partner accepts the emailed invitation, they’ll automatically appear in your list of direct message recipients and you’ll be able message them in Slack. This includes any current user of Slack, even those on the free plan.

An account manager shares slides with a customer in Slack Connect

Bring the right people together in channels

When you have a project or topic to discuss, and multiple people or organizations are involved, channels will serve you best. You can create a new channel or invite outside collaborators into an existing channel in your workspace that you’d like to share with them.

The first step in adding an external partner to a channel in Slack
The second step in adding an external partner to a channel in Slack

Building on our examples from earlier …

  • Sales reps: Close deals faster by getting feedback on proposals, obtain legal reviews, approve contracts and discuss implementation plans with your customers directly in Slack.
  • Product managers: Bring multiple beta users together into a channel to collect feedback and iterate together on a new feature.
  • Customer service agents: Provide white-glove, personal support to your most valued customers. Exchange log files and screenshots, and loop in engineers or other specialists whenever a technical question arises. Anyone added to the channel can easily read through the conversation history and offer solutions.
  • Marketing: Let agencies share proposals and mockups, get feedback and fast approvals from your team, and upload final deliverables, all in one place.

How Slack Connect works in practice

Imagine an account executive at Acme Corp. just presented her pitch to her customer, VP of marketing at The Beta Group. Immediately after the call, she invites the VP to direct message in Slack and includes a demo video the customer asked for.

As the deal shapes up, the AE creates a new Slack Connect channel and invites the VP, along with implementation specialists from both sides. Everyone can ask and answer questions and update one another on progress or blockers.

When it’s time to get the contract in order, finance and legal partners join the channel to finalize proposals, and any feedback is neatly documented in message threads. After the deal closes, customer success managers can leverage the channel to assist in the deployment of Acme Corp.’s product to The Beta Group, and as a first point of contact for any issues or communication going forward.

Quick tips and templates for working with external partners in Slack

To make getting started with Slack Connect as seamless as possible, try the three tips below.

1. By default, Slack Connect invitations are emailed directly to recipients who can participate in the direct message or channel once they accept. If you run into any trouble with pending invites, contact your Slack administrator about your workspace’s Slack Connect settings.

To add context to your email invitations, use the template below.

2. Lay the ground rules early with a welcome post on expectations of how often people will post in the channel and typical response times. To ensure that everyone is using the same communication norms, consider posting a message like the template below.

3. Use Workflow Builder, a visual tool allowing any Slack user to automate routine processes, to automatically send a copy of your welcome message to anyone who joins at a later date.

Slack Connect is a new way for organizations to drive business forward and communicate with their customers, partners and vendors as quickly and easily as they interact with their coworkers in Slack. Get started today; all your collaborators are just a simple direct message away.

If you’re currently using Slack on a free plan, you can sign up for a free trial and start inviting outside partners into your workspace to collaborate instantly.

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