But mustn't a site rank highly FIRST, before it can be found? Once it ranks highly it's much easier indeed, but getting there is the first step. Content is King in my book, always will be......but we all know that TOP rankings require links as well. Can't get unrequested or un-worked for links without top rankings.
Ahhh...but there is the flaw in your argument.
No, a site must not rank highly first, before it can be found. Nope, nope, nope!
In fact, a good portion of the clients that I deal with these days have hundreds if not thousands of links, but they're barely getting found in the search engines.
Having links is one way to get found, in and of itself. Ranking highly in the search engines for relevant keyword phraess is another way to get found. Promoting your site through offline media is yet another. Speaking at conferences...you guessed it -- another.
The bottom line is that SEO was never meant to be the only way a site gets found, visited, purchased from, or whatever.
SEO should be perhaps 1/10 of all the marketing "tricks" a company has up its sleeves for promoting their site. Do those other 9 things, and there's a good chance you'll never need to do link building...of the kind Leann does not like, at least. You WILL have an awesome site, people WILL find it, whether it's from the engines or somewhere else, and people WILL link to it. Whether it's vacuums, peanuts, search engine optimization services, or whatever.
But if you choose to not take your site seriously and attempt to get all your business through free SE listings, chances are you are skimping in other areas of your marketing and your site too. And in those cases, yep, who would want to link to you? Not me.