FranticFish - 6:46 am on Sep 23, 2013 (gmt 0)
One of the sites I manage has had no link building - it is an EMD for a counselling/therapy related term. It is a forum of a sort but custom built. Traffic was seeded with AdWords and rankings have gradually grown as we've added new content and new features via feedback from the mailing list and conversations with the users. AdWords was nearly all its traffic to begin with but now makes up 1/7 of search traffic which is about 1/2 of all traffic.
Monetisation is mainly branded digital products but there is some affiliate via Amazon.
The site frequently has multiple links to the same pages. Because important pages could be found in different ways there are duplicate links in the main nav, then there are banner ads on the RHS interwoven with section navigation, and then also image and text CTAs where they could be useful.
These have only ever been placed where we want to direct TRAFFIC around the site.
It is showing good growth for keywords and visitors month on month, and it definitely doesn't have anything like a strong link profile because we've been too busy building the site and interacting with the community as it grows to do any outreach - yet.
We're currently experimenting with precise placement and wording of these extra CTA links to maximise clickthroughs.
So I would say that if it's done to direct traffic - and that traffic does follow - then do it.