If you've just tabbed over to this piece to get away from the flurry of GIFs on your #random channel, or to celebrate after announcing you've crushing another software bug on your #product channel, you might be a Slack user. Though it's quickly becoming the favorite office comms tool in Silicon Valley and far beyond, what does Slack have to do with networking? You'd be surprised: Slack groups are changing the way industry leaders are connecting with each other, and chances are you're already in a few now - but definitely should be.
Slack founder & CEO Stewart Butterfield believes the key to modern computing lies in our ability to communicate rapidly and efficiently. It's fitting, then, that before Slack was a must-have consumer and business app, it was an internal comms tool at Butterfield's games company "Glint." After Slack launched open groups, hundreds of Slack groups popped up, connecting digital nomads, ebook authors, startup founders, ecommerce-savvy moms, and everyone in between. Slack groups are similar to modern-day AIM chat rooms, allowing many to communicate with many around common interests.
Slack groups can benefit startup founders by providing them connections, information and access that they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to access. The biggest benefit, however, is the personal touch: anyone can chat with anyone, so relationships have a chance to evolve deals close fast.
Networking Should be Simple - So Start with Conversation
Scott Manning, a Slack group moderator, believes that Slack Groups are the future of online networking. Instead of an in person meetup, Slack Groups give users a real opportunity to connect, help each other out and grow together.
His favorite group, Online Geniuses, focuses on marketing. Founded by David Markovich, it's a Slack community where like-minded marketers and creatives debate trends, discuss the latest industry topics, network, and learn from each other. OG's, for short, represent niches in Social Media Marketing, CRO, PPC, SEO and almost every vertical in the internet marketing space.
He told us the historical precedent to Slack Groups:
“Slack as a communication tool is just getting started, so there are certain interest groups for whom it makes more sense for than others. 15 years ago everyone was in wide-open chat rooms, but they got spammy. Then everyone joined membership-based forums, but that didn't have any sort of real-time conversation.
Now Slack has allowed people to merge those two things together. Suddenly we have hundreds of public Slack groups racking up hundreds or thousands of users over the course of a few months. Within our own group we've had member after member tell us about the quality of the discussions, content, AMAs, and general camaraderie that one usually doesn't experience without face-to-face networking. I've had nonchalant Slack calls with people several degrees of separation away from me, all because we were connected through Online Geniuses and shared that common bond.”
Slack Groups break down the barriers to finding the people you need to grow a business. By using a chat application like Slack, businesses can improve their internal community skills. Slack was born as an email killer and using Slack companies can reduce the time spent communicating internally.
Find the Right Community for You, and the Right Medium
Markovich didn’t start out OG as a Slack Community, but rather, a Skype group. Bursting with a few hundred members, Skype wasn't able host such a large group, so David looked for other options. That's when he discovered Slack. Like a secret society, the online group gets dozens of applications per day, though it rejects most to keep it filled with top-tiered talent.
Online Geniuses brings focus to modern day marketers and allows them to connect on a highly tactical level. Markovich says, “Modern day agency employees often lack the best practice knowledge required to make real results. The market changes so fast that it’s important to have a sounding board to make sure you’re making the right move.”
To make the experience valuable, the OG community regularly runs AMAs and has brought in big names like Rand Fishkin of Moz and Gabriel Weinberg of DuckDuckGo. With these tactics and word of mouth, it has grown to over 3,000 like-minded members, and founder David Markovich encourages its members to help one another grow their marketing practices.
“The future of shared learning lies within connected communities," says Markovich. "You can enter the group, ask a question and quickly have it answered by one of our many marketing online geniuses. All we want you to-do in return is do the same.”
Our Favorite Slack Groups
Where can you start with slack groups? Here are some of our favorites, but we've certainly missed some. Let us know your favorites in the comments, and we'll add ones that have a lot of value to offer. There are groups for almost all interest categories!
http://modtalk.co/ - a slack group for slack moderators
Designerhangout.co - a community for UX
http://youngstartups.io/ - a commnity for young startup leaders
https://hashtagnomads.com/ - a global community for digital nomads
http://techlondon.io/ - a community for tech movers and shakers
https://ios-developers.io/ - a community for iOS developers