There’s a classic scene in the movie “A Night at the Roxbury” that sticks in my mind.  It speaks perfectly to the perception of phone numbers as the ultimate reward for a well-played interaction.  The two lovable losers, Steve and Doug Butabi, somehow manage to go home with two hot girls for one-night stands.  In the morning after a night of passion, each guy asks his girl if he can call her.  Cut to shots of each guy running out of the house excitedly screaming, “I got her number!”  It’s a nice satire (and like the best satires only slightly exaggerated) of how guys tend to overrate the importance of getting a phone number.

They forget that getting the number is only a means to the end, not the end in itself.  Like the act of opening a set, getting the phone number is both essential and meaningless at the same time.  Obviously, furthering any interaction with a woman is next to impossible if you can’t call her.  However, we cannot ignore the fact that having a woman’s phone number guarantees absolutely nothing.

It doesn’t even guarantee that the number is real.  Being fobbed off with a fake number can be a painful experience, especially if you’re new to the world of approaching women.  When this happens (not “if” because it will happen), interpret the event just as you would have if she had just said “no” when you asked for her number in the first place.  The only difference between the two rejections is that women who give fake numbers don’t have the nerve to tell a man to his face that they have no desire to continue the conversation with them.

While it might indicate that you had not gamed the girl well enough to make her comfortable giving you her number, a fake number is as much a reflection on her own behavior as it is on you or your game.

It is much more likely, at all stages of your game, that you’ll encounter a flake.  A flake is a legitimate number but it doesn’t lead anywhere.  You call and she won’t pick up.  Or you leave a voicemail message and she never returns the call.  Maybe she’ll text you back but continue to ignore your phone calls.  Even when the texting goes back and forth, the phone goes unanswered.

Then there are the flakes who will answer your calls or quickly respond to a voice mail or a text, but then are always busy when you invite them out.  Or maybe they agree to meet you, then always flake out at the last  minute.  Worst are those who simply don’t show up without even making an effort to cancel.

Keep in mind that the newer you are to cold-approach  pick-ups the higher percentage of them will turn out to be flakes.  Don’t worry about it—it’s just a natural part of your learning curve, and it will get better.  And it’s always possible you will luck out and encounter fewer flakes than expected.  Either way, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something particularly wrong—or right.

In fact, the only reason I’m taking this much time to talk about the flake issue is to help give you the proper perspective on getting phone numbers.  The less you celebrate getting a number, the better off you will be.  Over-reacting to the acquisition of a girl’s phone number can have negative consequences on your inner game, so be on the watch for symptoms of over-reacting.  To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy, you know you’re over-valuing the number if you . . .

get depressed when a girl doesn’t respond to texts or calls

see every call-back or text as a “moment of truth”

base the value of the entire interaction on whether or not she calls back the next day

get more nervous when asking for the number

get more nervous when dialing the number

get more nervous when leaving a message

look over-excited when a girl agrees to give you her number

are more likely to try to push the girl into a date on the first call

All in all, it boils down to don’t get too excited that you got her number, but also don’t forget that the ability to acquire phone numbers consistently represents a significant advantage over those who can’t do so, even if a lot of those numbers are flakes.  Remember, a hundred numbers with a 30% flake count is still better than ten numbers without any flakes.

So if you’re not amassing a decent amount of phone numbers, keep at it regardless of how many flakes you encounter.

And if you are collecting more numbers than you used to do, congratulations on elevating your game to the next level.

It’s similar to measuring your progress in successfully starting conversations with strangers compared to how well you did before becoming aware of trying to do so.  Two-minute chats with a few girls don’t mean you’re going to be getting intimate with them in the immediate future, but it does mean you’re much closer to success than the old you.

The import of getting any single phone number is determined only by the passage of time—she might think you’re the hottest guy in the club and be counting down the days until you two exchange more than verbal pleasantries, or she might just be getting you out of her hair without inflicting a public rejection.  Either way, you’ll find out soon enough.  But in the meantime, the more numbers you acquire the more often often you will have an interaction ending in the first result rather than the second.

Now that you know the real importance of getting a phone number, we can consider how you should go about doing so.

First the good news.  Once you have developed your game skills to a sufficiently high level, you will find more and more girls taking the initiative and asking you to take down their information.

Great as that sounds, however, it’s rather foolish to wait for a girl to ask you to exchange information unless you can make this happen consistently.  So here are some suggestions for obtaining that all-important yet non-mandatory phone number.  They form two basic categories–”just ask for it” and creating a “time bridge.”

When I say “ask for it,” I don’t mean you should just blurt out “Can I have your number?”  Such a wishy-washy request is liable to come across as weak.  Once you’ve developed your game power and built up your dominant factor when talking to women, it might be possible to pull off such a gentlemanly phrasing without sounding like you expect her to say “No.”  But at this stage it’s better to to either take an indirect approach of suggesting it would be good to talk again—hinting that she should offer her number to make that possible—or take the most direct do-or-die approach of simply asking “What’s your number?”

But when you do, keep your phone in your pocket.  Suddenly whipping out a cellphone and shoving it at her can be extremely off-putting, even to someone who was about to give you her number.  Like asking someone to sign a contract while pushing paper and pen into their hands, it creates resistance rather than overcoming it.  People don’t like being pressured or told what to do, and that goes double for women out clubbing.

If you leave your phone in your pocket while asking for a girl’s number, she’s more likely to respond along the lines of  “Ok . . . ummm, do you have your phone on you?”  Then when you take out your phone and hand it to her it doesn’t seem like you’re forcing the issue.

One sly way to get her number is to take your phone out to check messages (or be ready to seize the opportunity if you should get a call while you are talking to her).  As you start to return the phone to your pocket, suddenly stop and ask, “Hey, what’s your number?”  This smooth, resistance-free request is usually successful because it’s so casual.  You happen to have your phone in your hand, you’re talking to a cool person you’d like to talk to again, what could be more natural than to ask for her number?  And what could be more natural on her part than to give it?

The second category is the “time bridge.”  The point of a time bridge is to find some future event where the two of you would like to hang out together.  You then need to have her number for the ostensible purpose of planning for that event.  Usually, the event is presented as something that will happen whether she attends or not.

For instance, you can mention a party you’ll be attending, playing it up as the coolest event of the year.  Ideally, she’ll express interest in it and you can offer to see if you can get her in.  Ask how you can get hold of her if you can swing it, and she’ll volunteer her phone number.

The biggest problem with this approach is if she rejects the idea or simply doesn’t bite, it can make it more awkward to go after her number in a more direct fashion.