I'm in the last year of my PhD and I'd like to get a postdoc after my program is done. In a few days, I'm going to present a poster about one of my projects (manuscript to be submitted soon) in a conference and I want to know how to approach professors.

I have a pretty good idea about the professors that will be present and the ones I'd like to join but how to approach them is something new for me. I don't think it's appropriate to focus on my current work when approaching them since I'll not work on the same subject in a postdoc. Moreover, I feel that some subjects are more delicate to discuss such as funding, flexibility and independence in the group.

How should I proceed in this matter ?

I've found the answers and comments in this question very informative but they work for the specific case of a talk: "Looking for a postdoc" ad inside a conference talk?.

  • 1
    A standard method is to email those professors (ideally like a week early, but later is better than never), state that you're interested in their research groups, and ask if they have time to meet during the conference. If they don't answer you can try doing the same in person.
    – Anyon
    Jul 9, 2018 at 18:05

2 Answers 2


Your current work shows what you managed to accomplish so far - which is a first estimate on how you might perform in the future. Therefore, talking about your current work is not bad.

If the interesting people are visiting your poster, everything is easy: Just ask them how they like your work and tell them you are looking for a postdoc position. Either they catch the ball or they don't ;-). If they are interested, just ask whatever you are interested in, or, if they are short in time, ask them when you could talk (perferably at the conference). Maybe you can meet for lunch / dinner / at the conference social event, coffee break, ... depending on the social interaction options at the conference (don't ask for dinner / lunch if it is not part of the official conference program).

If they don't come to your poster: Try to use the social interaction options mentioned above to approach those professors. Tell them why you would like to talk to them (why this group, what are your itnerests, ...). Invite them to visit your poster so you can show them what you did so far.


You seem to have done your homework on this. I assume you also know what each of these profs is interested in. If not, try to find out a bit about it and think about how you might fit in. You might read a recent paper of each, for example. Then you will have something interesting to say to them other than just a request.

As to the "sensitive" topics, first establish that they have some interest in you, assuming a perfect world. Once you establish that you can explore funding and the rest. But don't start with that, and don't make it a precondition. If they are interested (and you are) then it will be time to work out details and any special needs.

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