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I am a postdoc and will soon(er or later) begin a faculty position. At the moment, due to a rough academic job season and an increasing sense of feeling limited in what I can do in my current postdoc, I am feeling very closed off from others in the field and a strong desire to make connections. Today I had the idea of inviting myself to give a talk in a lab that does research I am very interested in. I am not seeking a position in the lab but rather just want to make connections with others, learn more about the work done in the lab and how it's done, and suss out potential for future collaboration. It is the 'off season' for conferences in my field and I don't have work that I am ready to present in a conference setting, but I do have a talk that's ready to go. Would it be weird to offer to give a talk? I would pay my own travel/hotel expense. It wouldn't be a complete cold call because we have a mutual colleague that I could mention.

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    About the terminology you’re using: it’s quite reasonable and appropriate to offer to visit a lab and give a talk, but please don’t say you’re “inviting yourself”. You cannot logically invite yourself to a place where you hold no authority to invite anyone, so to me that phrase comes across as presumptuous and/or clueless. Only the lab personnel can invite you; what you would be doing could be described as “offering to give a talk”, “suggesting to give a talk”, “volunteering to give a talk”, or (to express it in the least euphemistic and most honest way) “asking to be invited to give a talk”. – Dan Romik Dec 19 '17 at 23:15
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    @PanPsych It's the title of the question – Travis Dec 19 '17 at 23:47
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    I've done exactly that at three different institutes. – gerrit Dec 19 '17 at 23:53
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    Yes, it's the title of the question, but I don't think that implied that I'd be clueless enough to actually use those words. At any rate, I'm not. – PanPsych Dec 20 '17 at 0:20
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    @PanPsych it would not be odd, people do it all the time. Of course, how kindly this would be received by the people you’re contacting would be roughly in proportion to how interesting your work appears to them. If you have good work to be prepared, I imagine they would be quite happy at your suggestion. By the way, before you offer to pay your own travel expenses, it may be a good idea not to mention anything about that at first and see if the people from the other lab offer to pay your expenses - it’s quite possible that they have money for that and would be quite happy to reimburse you. – Dan Romik Dec 20 '17 at 0:56
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There's absolutely nothing wrong with making an outreach to a group you're interested in learning more about. Just make sure not to make it too hard of a sell: you could say something like, "I'd like to visit your group, and I could give a talk if you'd like." I don't think most professors would be put off by such a request.

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It is usually hard for institutes to find external speakers (and expensive to invite), so anyone willing to visit at their own expense is warmly welcomed. In particular if the institute has a (semi)-recurring seminar series to fill with speakers.

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    Completely agree. We have a seminar that's supposed to happen every two weeks, but even with 5 PIs trying to fill the slots with random visitors, collaborators and some well-known people doing a tour of Europe, there's always space for more speakers. – VonBeche Dec 19 '17 at 21:00

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