Before the relationship , before the sex and before the date… you’ve got to get her number. A woman’s phone number is like a set of keys to a castle — sure, the doors inside might still be locked but you can’t even get near ’em until you get in the front door. Unless you go in the back… yikes! A woman’s phone number is an elusive, wily thing. So we talked to five women to find out how a regular guy can get those elusive, cherished digits.

Persistence pays off?

One thing most of our gals said was that they’ve given out their numbers after a guy came at her persistently. Hard work pays off, right? No… not at all.

Out of all the women we spoke with, only one (“Michelle” from LA) ended up on a follow-up date with an uber-persistent fellow she met at a club. And it wasn’t a night club, to boot. It was a comedy club. “Michelle” went on to say that for her to seriously consider going out with a guy, “he needs to not meet me in a club.”

The other girls gave out their numbers to persistent guys only to get them to kiss off or, in one occasion, to score a few free drinks.

What should this tell us? Well, for one, the old adage is probably true — a woman decides if you’re a potential mate within the first few SECONDS of meeting you. That “spark” you always hear girls talking about (you know, when they’re telling you to eff off because there’s “no spark” between the two of you?) is, more or less real.

So if you want a girl’s number and she shows zero interest in you from the get go, don’t take that as a personal challenge. Take that as a sign that she’s not the girl for you.

Some lines do work

It’s 2010. Pick-up lines couldn’t possibly work, right?! Wrong.

Guys aren’t succeeding with the tired old “your legs must be tired because you’ve been running through my mind all night” BS. But at least two of the girls (unknowingly) admitted to having given out their digits to guys who were running text book game.

Our pal Kimberly, for example, told us she gave a guy her number because he was “straight up.” But when asked what that means, she elaborated, “He told me, ‘this is something I normally don’t do, because I think you’re out of my league and [I] don’t know if I could be lucky enough… But can I have your number?'” Then he asked if she wanted his number so she could call the shots and, well, she texted him the next day.

If that’s not game, we don’t know what game is. But it shows us that while women are on the look out for pick-up lines and pick-up artists, they really don’t know what “gaming” a girl looks like in the wild. Even after the VH1 shows and the books and all that, women still can’t tell when they’re being gamed.

So stop being so concerned with if you’re being obvious or not and just go for it.

Best place?  Anywhere but a club

Every girl we interviewed at some point said they rarely, if ever, give out their number. But then we pressed them and asked, well how did the guys you date get ahold of you? By carrier pigeon?

Their answers were revealing — women only consider it “giving out her number” when it’s at a club or a bar. If you meet her in class, at work or through a friend of a friend and ask for those digits, you will probably get them. Why is that?

Guys go to the club to get laid. Girls know that. But that’s not why girls go to the club. They go to the club to dance. That makes sense — anyone who’s been in a long term relationship can cop to the fact that their lady, at some point, uttered the phrase, “Why don’t you ever take me dancing?”

So who are the girls you’ll find at a club? Slightly drunk, dance-happy packs of single girls who have their guards up and their rape whistles in their purses. Why bother?

As Marie, from NY, told us, the best place to pick up a girl is “somewhere respectable” like a coffee shop or a museum. Or a comedy club, like where our pal Michelle met her current fling.

Sometimes clubs work – if you are a male model

When we asked the ladies we interviewed what it would take to actually get them to give their numbers to a guy in a club and seriously consider going out with him after, they across the board said it would take a “hot guy.” Like an underwear model or an actor.

Or, as Meredith from New York, put it — “Jack White can have my number any time.” So Jack, if you’re reading this… give Meredith a call.