There is no substitute for in-person communication. When you first start working with a new team you should always meet them in person. Many distributed teams have new members work in the office for at least two weeks and often much longer. It is important to start the relationship with as much information sharing as possible. Learn the systems you will be working on. Tell your team what your areas of expertise are. Learn about your coworkers’ personal lives and tell them about yours.
During this time you should meet as many members of your team as possible. When you meet someone face-to-face you will create a bond. You can extend that bond to create a more meaningful relationship when you are out of the office. That bond is the beginning of connecting with people on the emotional level required to really be a part of the team.