I hated competitions.
I played the piano competitively when I was young, and I hated tournaments. The loneliness of winning, the bitterness of losing.
Conferences are important to share your knowledge, get to know what others are working on, and, yes, networking. It is an important part of the academic job.
As with anything in life, preparation makes meeting with your advisor easier, more useful, and probably more pleasant for both of you.
Yes, I became more productive, and I can share how, in 5 steps.
What do you do to improve research outsourcing?
This is an introduction I give to PhD students at LSE. If you would like to use Stata, please see this manual by the legendary Aditi Payasi: https://docs.google.