While I understand the conversation in this thread is centered on link building, I want to point out that SEO's, copywriters, usability specialists, designers, etc., can do the same. Anyone who can manipulate a webpage has the power.
Webmasters/owners who understand that linking is about marketing will always be ahead of the rest in serps, revenues and exposure. No matter what tactic you use to promote yourself on the Web/Net, being successful is about being link smart.
Think about it - PPC...SEO...linking....usablility.....copywriting....content development....partnerships.....buying ads....ALL of it centers around linking. If you don't plan and strategize about how and where to link - you'll never be successful.
IMO, people get into "trouble" when they look for quick-fixes and focus on one type of link building. You can't do that and expect to be successful. You CAN submit your site to the better Directories but shouldn't make that your sole means of link building. Do many types of linking within your industry niche and focus on creating a site that's worthy to link to.
People ask me all the time what the real secret of linking is. I've always had the same answer - a little luck, lots of patience and a damn good site.
It's not just linking.... it's marketing.
<lol... you knew that was coming!!>