surely other sites and people will do the link building for you.
Do you have that much time? It can happen, but it isn't quick.
And "not chasing links" is not the same as "not promoting" a site.
It took a nearly year before the search engines found a link to my site somewhere and started sending me any visitors. By the time I joined WW the site was about not quite 17 months old and was getting about 20,000 pageviews a month.
I didn't ask for a link for nearly the first 4 years my site was online, by which time my page views were closing in on 1,000,000 a month point. Even then, after the 4 years, it was another member here who did a bit of link building for me and got maybe 20 links for me as a kindness (I don't recall the exact number), but I did and do appreciate the kindness, that is the only "link building" I've ever done or had done for my site.
Today, at near the 10 year mark, Yahoo! says I have about 8,500 hundred inbound links. I'd guess that at most 2,000 - 2,500 of hose are valid and very related links and the rest are from scrapers.
So where did the good links links come from?
Well as I said, not chasing links is not the same as not promoting the site.
I attend a lot of relevant events and talk to folks about our common interests. In the course of those conversations I sometimes mention my site.
Eventually that led some of the event organizers and attendees to visit and link to the site. And the link count grew from there. Well there's more to it than that, but that is how it got started.
So yeah, it can be done, but it can take a lot of time.
All of which is probably a lot harder to do today than it was 10 years ago.
When I started paying attention to the search engines (after I joined this forum) a 3 word search query where I'd get a little traffic seldom showed more than 100,000 results.
I just ran a sample of those similar searches and none of them showed less than 1,000,000 results, several were in the 30,000,000 + range for an unquoted 3 word term/phrase.
That has to make it a lot tougher, so waiting for a significant number of volunteer links might take a little longer.