A while back, I read an article that explained how to get a good google rating without ever submitting your site to their submission forms. Like you, I was kind of shocked by this statement so I decided to give it a try.
In beginning, I used to submit my site all time to Google but soon realized magnitude of my failure. Of course, it's a known fact that Google relies solely on your link popularity and content.
Link Popularity? What that means is amount of links (yousite.com) listed on other sites that are related to yours! The more sites that link to you, greater your popularity!
So again, Google depends on your link popularity! If you don't have a google rating (In other words, is your link found on google?) some sites WILL NOT link to yours. There are many sites that have a great google rating and have specific regulations to whom they will accept within their resource sections. They will specify that your site must
be listed within Google and if they type in your site in google search bar, your site should be listed within top 5 sites.
Here's The Theory:
Of course you want all sites to link to you, especially ones who already have a great google rating because that means that your site
will be picked up by google. Some people only try to get links from those sites but just remember, we all had to start somewhere.
My suggestion is to do as many link exchanges as possible and especially make sure that each site is specifically categorized by their content. You will get penalized for having one page full of links to sites that do not relate to each other.
Another little "Timbit", try to keep your pages to 1-20 links within each page. Once you have 20 links, add a button to a (PAGE 2) and continue your resources that way.