You can check the “medium curation guideline” by searching in Medium this term. Being Featured means that in your statistics for the article, instead of saying “distributed” it will say “distributed and featured”. This means that your article comes up as the first article on top of the tag above all the articles that are curated.
I believe in engaging with writers naturally on medium, you will get people replying to you on your articles. You have social media link on top of your profile, they will naturally follow you there if they like your writing. Then, you can follow them as well. You don’t need a list. It’s better to not have a list otherwise you will get spammed. Instead read what you want to read and write what you want to write.
You will naturally find your “tribe”. The algorithm will customize your views for the types of articles you like to read etc…
Thanks for reading my article and responding. I hope I answered your questions.