Google is clear that they do not want companies to buy links for the purpose of manipulating Google rankings. So are there ways for companies to pay for links to help their rankings without incurring the wrath of Google?
Personally I think of link development not as "paid" links but more as link investment and like most investments they tend to require payment.
Here are some "paid" links that can fall into an unclear area which you can debate as risky or not risky at all:
a) charity donations in exchange for being listed as a sponsor online
b) giving free products/services to bloggers
c) paying to develop online tools for your audience
d) providing free seminars which cost you money to setup
How would you invest in link development while avoiding Google penalizing your rankings in their serps?