Demaestro - 8:30 pm on May 17, 2010 (gmt 0)
I haven't been doing much new but I will re-enforce something you touched on.
A phone call can go a really really long way.
I got into the habit of solely communicating by email, it is just easier, I can respond to direct questions in my own time and give more thought to my answers.
What I have found is there is a big group of people who find this impersonal and even lazy. This is even more true if an email is the first point of contact.
What I have found to be more effective is to try to make any initial contact no matter the reason or the person to be in person or with a phone call.
Once I make that call then I follow up in emails and I find people to be much more receptive, especially when it comes to link building or anything where you are essentially asking for a favor or a quid pro quo.
When at all possible I would say try to make a call then follow up with an email when looking for someone to do an exchange with you.