Link request emails typically contain some sort of compliment about the website’s design or content. The trouble is that it often comes across as forced, and sometimes there’s not even a great deal to be complimentary about. When a compliment is obviously a thinly veiled attempt to get in the website owner’s good books, it can have the opposite effect.
Twitter is a much more natural place for this sort of activity – people are always bigging each other up. They RT, #FF, list people, post each other’s blog content, interact, ask questions, and share. It’s totally natural and can be much more subtle, so don’t forget to use all of these tools to get yourself noticed by your link targets.
For example, a month of gentle, regular retweeting and interaction could be the perfect way to build up to a link request email.