To build an effective social network, we must give our attention to the right communities.
Communication is a bridge
Initial contact in the evaporating attention economy has become a fine digital art. Venture capitalist Mark Suster pointed out an effective "cold" introduction method described by Arnold Waldstein (a friend and fellow blogger):
"if I want to connect with you, I’ll engage with you on this blog …from there, a follow on Twitter, a link on LinkedIn are closing the loop of connection rather that opening a cold door.”
You can replace LinkedIn with your communication channel of choice, Mark Suster see's great value from Facebook. I regularly communicate with many different formats and allow a channel's utility to determine how much of my attention/time goes to each (asynchronous greatly preferred). The analogy between neural network learning, and social networking is evident (for more on super organism far out ideas see Kevin Kelly)
Arnold eloquently captured the best way to build a relationship with a blogger. There have been a number of folks who instinctively understood this method of slow relationship building, but I haven't seen it written up before as a best practice. Bloggers become accustomed to freely sharing the way we think about problems and opportunities. When others find value in our shared thoughts, or disagree with our assumptions they are invited to comment. Each blog (and comment section) is curated by its creator to keep the discussions focused.
What Disqus has done by implementing a glue between commenters is allow me to follow friends from one blog to another. If multiple people I know and respect by their comments, all choose to frequent a blog, I can safely assume it is a high quality community. Disqus has created a form of social search, one that I'm eager to capitalize on with the Intelligent Media Manager (IMM at Victus Media).