You can not cheat SEO. Doing good work is something you have to keep in mind at all times. "What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work."- Jack White
When I first started doing SEO I would look up companies that ranked well on Google and I would try to break down what separated them and the companies that ranked under them. Finding the referring links and the amount of links pointing to the well ranked sites was easy. Knowing why those links made the site rank so well was a little more difficult. I then noticed that a large amount of the links pointing to the high ranking sites were what I then called "professional links". Professional links are links coming from advertising and news sites writing articles referencing these big companies. Without tons of money you can't afford to advertise and without the advertising you get a lot less people referring to you and your site. So the big companies ranked by default. Some time has passed and today these links are not so unobtainable. Local Citation sites like the Yellowpages are great places for these kind of links and citations.
Before it became easier I attempted to get more low quality links hoping to have the same power as a few good quality links. This route also can leave you open to site that may obtain poor links in the future. This of course can hurt what you are trying to do. Depending on who you ask this can be an example of bad back links. There are always exceptions to the rules.
You want to stay away from footer links and site wide links. Links that you control the anchored text are becoming increasingly less valuable. If you are trading links with another site let them create the link back. Bio boxes and social sites and blog sites are also losing some value unless you are going after authorship rank. Citations are a very big thing for Google and SEOs right now. Try using Citations instead of links.
Be sure to know what you and your company site need before starting your own SEO campaign. Building up over time will appear more realistic as well.