I am a PhD student right now, and I'm looking towards doing a post-doc in the future. There is a research laboratory where I want to do my post doc, primarily because there are scientists engaged in very similar topics to my dissertation work. I've never met any of them personally, and I know that the standard approach is to network with them at conferences first. Someone had suggested to me that it is possible to target an individual in that institution, and somehow invite yourself to their lab to meet them, potentially giving an unofficial (non-departmental) talk in their lab. I know that this is not a standard approach, and I think that if I'm not careful I might give a bad impression in the process. How can I invite myself to the lab if I don't have a personal connection to a researcher in that institution?
I was just at the JMMs in Baltimore and was out to lunch with a past supervisor. We eventually had several people join us, one from a nice Middle Eastern Country (which I had also incidentally applied to and he recalled my name ... which is nice!).
Anyway, he made a specific point to indicate to me (and the others at our table) that their department had some funding to bring in some candidates for talks.
I know that this question was more for how to get invited to a talk at a specific institution, but there are many ways that this can happen!
I think you're best bet is indeed representing yourself. It shows initiative. Especially if you've met the person at the conferences / talks within your community. The other thing is that if you ask them in person, or mention something in passing, they might make an offer to have you come visit and talk. Otherwise, a nice polite email indicating you would like to talk at some point would be good.