I will offer you snippets of the advice i have personally gotten in tells on the relatively short time i have been here on the server. As a new person myself, perhaps this will lend some perspective.
Disclaimer: These are actual pieces of advice i have gotten from long standing players on the server. They do not necessarily reflect my personal opinions.
1. Never go on explorations. If its not paying, and providing you direct benefit, its nothing but a money drain, and will likely get you killed multiple times, likely with not even gratitude involved as well. Stick to paying quests with known rewards.
2. Join a faction. Without a faction, you are pretty much limited to a minor role in anything that goes on, and will be treated like dirt, no matter your contributions, by anyone in a faction.
3. Get to as many DM events as you can, you get the best things from them.
4. Avoid ever doing " Insert deathtrap quest here" Unless you have " insert power combo of classes here " Not worth the risk.
5. Get used to the fact that new people are outsiders, and are treated as such.
6. Do not take risks. Dont be the one who rushes the bad guys, hang back and let others do that.
Again, these are tells i have gotten from players.. or words to the effect, to help me integrate into the server population, and advice offered to better enhance my time here in Arabel.
I don't know what "senior players" you have been asking or interacting with, but this sounds like the view of one or two powergamers. Not the true senior players on this server. If you talk to anyone who has actually been around her for a while, and actually accomplished something, they will tell you that every single one of those things is untrue.
That being said, I do not know of many people who only quest with friends, or give outright preference to friends. Unless your character conflicts with the other character in question, I have never seen someone do this. Try interacting with a few more people, or make your character really stand out. That usually gets you involved and interacted with more.