1. Contrary to what fly-by-night operators promoting SEO snake oil claim, editor-based, relevant reciprocal linking and link exchanging have always been fully compliant with Google and Bing’s guidelines. High volume (unnatural) links between irrelevant sites are NOT compliant.
2. It is getting increasingly harder for small business sites to survive solely on search-engine-generated traffic. Visitors who follow relevant links are more likely to convert into customers than other visitors because they’ve already expressed an interest in your products or services.
3. Relevant links to high quality sites can and do help improve search-engine rankings and return positions. Adding new links to your site at a natural organic growth rate is like adding new content. It shows search robots that your site is alive and expanding rather than stagnating.
4. Buying links is still bad. The JCPenney/Google scandal forced all the major search engines to acknowledge the size and pervasiveness of the backlink “black market” and take steps to identify and punish webmasters who participate in it.
5. Linking is a powerful branding tool. One of the best ways to brand a new name is to get it out there on other websites within your realm of interest.
Keep linking. Don't let the search engines (or misinformation) dictate how you brand your business name and build traffic to your website.