I am a PhD candidate in computer science and I am looking for postdocs.
Surfing the web, I have found a post-doc opening that I find extremely interesting, but I do not know personally the PI of the group, nor my advisor does.
The opening asks for submitting 3 items: a CV, a cover letter and a research proposal.
Before writing a research proposal I would like to get in contact with the PI and try to understand their challenges and write something that would be meaningful for them, instead of going directly with a proposal that maybe is not of interest for them.
Which is the best way to approach a PI in this setting? Should I send him a mail with a CV and referee contacts even if this is not exactly an application, but is an informal query? Or should I go directly with the formal application?
Any experience to share?