During a conference last winter, I had the opportunity to have an informal interview with a PI from "University A" in Boston. Although the position was not immediately available, there may be a potential opening for Spring 2024. After our discussion, PI-A expressed interest in staying in touch.

I have a talk scheduled with PI-B's lab at "University B" in Boston in a few weeks as part of a post-doc interview. While in town, I would like to reconnect with the PI from University A to maintain a professional network and discuss potential future opportunities. I am unsure about the best approach and would appreciate your advice on the following options:

  1. Emailing PI-A to request a meeting over a cup of coffee during my visit to Boston. PI-A seemed open to this idea during our previous encounter, so it may be appropriate to extend the invitation.
  2. Inviting PI-A to attend my talk at University B. While PI-A's availability may be limited, it could provide an opportunity to reconnect. However, I wonder if it would be better just to email them and invite them for coffee instead.

How appropriate is it to invite PI-A to my talk at PI-B's lab? I am concerned about the implications for my opportunity with Lab-B. Should I seek approval from PI-B's lab manager first? My proposed approach would be to mention that a colleague from University A is interested in attending the talk if it suits their schedule. Subsequently, I would reach out to PI-A to gauge their interest.

Lastly, I would like to know how appropriate it is to invite someone I had an informal interview with to engage in scientific discussions over coffee.

  • 1
    (1) is surely OK. You tell them you will be in town on [dates) to talk at B on (date), ask to meet informally, and see what happens. Perhaps their followup will provide more informatiion. Jun 12 at 16:41
  • Why not suggest both? If A can and want to come to the talk, they will come (and you can also meet at coffee later); if not, you'll meet at coffee. If you don't know whether external visitors will be allowed at the talk, just mention this, A might be better aware about how it is usually handled there.
    – Petr
    Jun 12 at 20:24

2 Answers 2


How appropriate is it to invite PI-A to my talk at PI-B's lab? I am concerned about the implications for my opportunity with Lab-B. Should I seek approval from PI-B's lab manager first?

If this is a public talk, as I think university talks usually are, then you shouldn't need approval from PI-B's lab manager. After all, PI-A has as much right to join as anyone. If it's not public, I would just briefly ask PI-B if they'd be OK with inviting PI-A. They probably know each other, so it should probably be fine if they're not mortal enemies.

Inviting PI-A to your talk at University B does not rule out meeting up with PI-A at university A later.

In the final year of my PhD, I gave a short talk at the university in Boulder (Colorado, USA), and to my surprise, a senior scientist I knew from a nearby research lab just outside town came over to listen. He must have found out about it somehow, but not from me. It was good for me, as my main aim with the visit was to network for the purpose of finding post-doc opportunities in the first place, and due to time issues I had not scheduled any visit to the research lab in question.


Aside from options 1 and 2, which you mentioned, there exists option 3:
you can inform PI-A that you will be in town for a seminar, and that, if he is interested, you will be happy to give the same seminar for his group.

[ As we all know, the schedule of official seminars is prepared well in advance, but it is not uncommon to hold an informal "brown-bag seminar" on an ad hoc basis. ]

Such a suggestion would leave to PI-A several oportunities to choose from: to agree to hold an informal talk, or instead to attend your talk at university B, or simply to invite you for a meeting over a cup of coffee.

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