Just like Martini and Jane said - pick your spots and be the best at those spots.
Think creatively about both ways to provide value, but also about ways to impress others on the phone.
I have picked up the phone before and have built links to a website in a competitive genre where 3-5 other websites could have easily beaten me in terms of quality.
At the end of the day it was actually persistence and charm that got me the link - not stellar content.
Also remember, that if you do not ask, you do not receive. A big part of my link playbook. Ask right, and ask often.