The test case and discussion in this thread:
not only suggests that links are still important, but high quality/trusted links might be more important than ever.
But, even if you believe they are more important than ever, it's hard to know what to do about it.
Any attempt to "build" links runs the risk of being a waste of time or, worse, being interpreted as "unnatural" by Google (now or in the future), thereby triggering a penalty or having the opposite effect desired (making the site less trusted by Google).
Not only are most forms of link development risky, the least risky options tend to be the most labour intensive, and therefore it isn't clear whether they are worth pursuing.