I know people who tend to say that meetings are just ego fests. “If people want to know what I’m doing”, they say “then read my papers”. I think this is bullshit. This far into my career I have friends that I only get to see at these meetings. They are smart, they help my science, they give me good professional feedback. Everyone at every age needs mentors. The networking for people of all ages is invaluable. This is where you meet the people who review your grants, papers, etc. Knowing someone, having a face attached to your name makes you more real to them.
My mother used to always want to see my office. She said that she wanted to be able to imagine me sitting in it when we talked (yes, she did call during the day). What you want is for those peopel reviewing your stuff to have a good and positive image of you in their head when they read it.