The in-game connection issues are to do with Frontier’s code, not your equipment! So, @Hazara’s port forwarding settings will probably help you
 You can stay in same systems and build ‘local’ reputation. You usually get the best paying mission just as you reach max reputation with a ‘local’ faction, but Frontier have made changes to mission system in last major update, so the appearance of good payouts is more frequent now
 Obviously you have to do Imperial Naval missions to go up in Imperial rank
Oi! That's Baron von Schnellenstein to you, mate. No, it doesn't matter that I'm an Imperial Prince!