Link popularity is not about exchanging reciprocal links. It is the number of inbound links to your website and the traffic going through those links that determines your link popularity.
Just exchanging links with hundreds of other websites will not increase your link popularity and the majority of websites that are willing to exchange links will be low traffic websites just as desperate for traffic as you are.
Building links from other websites is a painstaking task that has to be approached from a patient and professional manner. Simply sending out hundreds of reciprocal link exchange requests will do nothing but irritate most busy webmasters.
Link popularity is based on the number of inbound links to your site minus the number of out bound links. So simply exchanging links does nothing for your page ranking. Furthermore, it is the level of traffic that is generated through these links that is important, so linking from low traffic websites is virtually pointless.
If you have a low traffic website, asking to exchange links with busy hub sites is like asking to borrow money from a stranger and telling them you have no ability to repay them. If you get a response, it is likely to be a request to go away and not bother them.
You need a large busy website that has good quality content as the big busy websites are investing fortunes in their online strategies and only a very na´ve business person would think they could compete without the backing of a major Internet business partner.
To persuade successful websites to link to you, your website has to be designed for the search engines, optimised by professional search engine optimisers, and already getting high volumes of traffic through the search engines. This is essential for any link building campaign to succeed.
When you have a successful website, other successful websites will see a genuine purpose in linking to you. Until then, all you will attract are small, low traffic websites, all hoping something amazing will suddenly transform their website into a mega site overnight. The reality is that these websites will never be anything other than sites that prop up the bottom of the Internet.
So before you start working on your link popularity, make sure you have a website that is worth linking to, to ensure other websites consider you to be a valuable Internet business partner.