During Search Engine Strategies Toronto I listened intently to two very insightful speakers. One is linking genius Debra Mastaler of Alliance-Link.com and the man who is known as the "God of Linking" Eric Ward of EricWard.com (who was responsible for all of the initial linking for Amazon.com). I heard them speak during the Link Building Clinic and Link Strategies 2005.
Here's the conundrum:
Linking gives you serious power and clout (if you know how to use them) with search engines. Good links and properly anchored text can get you right to the top. On the other hand, how do you add links and not drive people to other areas of the web (specifically away from your website - the one they are on)?
My guess is that a great link is a great partner. It's someone who adds immense value while not taking away your prime business or allowing your customers to forget about you should they click the link and leave your site.
Since the spammers and link farmers have made the linking space that much more difficult, the need for quality links has pushed the area of linking into an almost "PR" position, where the linking masters are searching for partners that increase both parties business. It seems like a win-win when it works. I guess my personal concern is still that you are giving your clients an easy "out" - that one click and then they're gone. It's a scary proposition and it's probably not for everyone who has a website. That's why linking should not be done just because you can. It should be done because it makes sense for you, the person you're linking to and, most importantly, your users.
Linking is an amazingly interesting component of the online marketing space. Getting is right - especially after hearing Debra and Eric speak - is a true art and impressive skill.