Messaging platform Slack has been the cornerstone of many internal communication strategies over the past year, providing a popular method of messaging colleagues directly or through dedicated channels. Now, the company is setting its sights on external comms too, rolling out an update that will let users DM anyone they like – even if they’re not working in the same organisation.
The feature is part of Slack Connect, a service that allows users to communicate with external teams through shared channels. Paid users can access the new Connect direct messaging feature from today (24 March) and, according to The Verge, it will soon become available to all teams including free users.
Slack has shared details of what users can expect. To start a conversation with a person outside your organisation, you’ll have to send them an invitation. If they accept, then the DMs work just as they would with your internal contacts.
Once you send an invite, it lasts for 14 days and then expires. You’re free to send another one after that happens, unless an owner or admin has restricted your permissions.
You’ll also be able to add external people you’ve started direct messaging to a group chat. If you’re already in a channel with the external person you want to DM, however, you don’t need to send them an invite.
According to Slack, sending a DM invitation involves four steps. It advises users to click the ‘compose’ button next to the workspace name in the top left of the window. In the ‘to’ field, enter the email address for the person you want to invite. From the menu that pops up, choose ‘start a direct message’ and then ‘send invitation’.
When it comes to accepting invitations from external contacts, Slack says you need to open the invite and click ‘view invitation’. You’ll then be prompted to choose the Slack account you want to use for this DM. Once you’ve made that decision, click ‘start conversation’ and you can begin the private conversation right away and end it whenever you like.
A spokesperson for Slack told TechCrunch that an organisation’s IT admins can control who has access to this feature, disable this feature for their teams, and monitor all external connections including Slack Connect DMs.
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