You'll need a Slack account.
If you work at Airbnb, Ticketmaster, NBCUniversal, NASA, or even Fortune, you probably use Slack to communicate, collaborate, and share silly GIFs with colleagues. However, some innovative Slackers are now using the versatile messaging platform—a hybrid of group chat and document-sharing—to create communities of like-minded people, many of which are focused on professional women.
Angela Cois, co-founder of Mexico City-based Roomino, a travel booking application for Slack teams, created the group #FemaleFounders as a place for current or aspiring startup founders to meet and talk without needing to be at the same place at the same time. While there are great opportunities for networking and learning at venues like Women 2.0 monthly meetups or the YC Female Founders annual conference, says Cois, it can be tough to get to such events if you don’t live in a tech hub.
To join a Slack group, you typically request an invite and may need to answer a few questions. Some of the sites aren’t transparent about who’s involved, so proceed accordingly. With that in mind, here are a few Slack groups focused on professional women.
#FemaleFounders: Connect with established, new, and aspiring tech company founders. There is a $30 fee to join once your application is accepted, which Cois says goes to cover PR and social media activities, such as the Medium publication for the group. In less than a year, the group attracted 625 members, says Cois.
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#WEFESTIVAL: This group, created by Women’s Entrepreneur Festival founders Joanne Wilson and Susan Solomon, is for female entrepreneurs and investors and currently has more than 600 members. Each week, Wilson and Solomon organize a “Slack-Off” where an expert fields questions on a specific topic such as hiring and raising funds.
LemonAid: For those who are struggling with work—or life in general—LemonAid is a place for women to seek advice during tough times, or for women who’ve been through those times to help others. Founded by Nicole Kelner, COO of The Coding Space, which provides coding classes for children, it currently has approximately 100 members.
Women in Technology: If you work in tech—anything from writing code to software testing and QA to graphic design and user experience—this group is open to you. Created by UX designer Rachael Hodder, Women in Technology has roughly 800 members and welcomes both veterans and newbies to “chat and support each other,” according to its landing page.
#WomenInSales: This new group was launched in mid-January 2016 after creator Ali Powell realized that she didn’t meet a female VP of sales until she’d been in the business for 10 years. Powell says that she created the community, which includes a Slack channel, to promote diversity and connect women in sales.
Women in Product: Founded by Slack product manager Merci Victoria Grace, this group allows women in product management to discuss opportunities and talk about the particular challenges of being a woman in their industry.
While not broken out by gender, special-interest Slack lists are cropping up for a variety of professions ranging from podcasters and teachers to remote workers and human resources professionals. Slack does have a list of featured communities on its web site, and Cois recently published a list of various external Slack groups. Chit Chats allows people to post their Slack groups.
The Slack team seems agnostic about this type of use. In a statement, a spokesperson said, “Slack is built for internal team communications. Having people find utility for the Slack outside the workplace is fantastic, but the company remains focused on building the product for business use.”
So, Slack on, women and other special interest groups. This powerful platform may deliver just the community you need to further your career.