Poor you @kateheather2015…thats terrible and with your first connection too
For most, LinkedIn is a professional platform - I’ve seen a number of posts and discussions about it being used as a dating site for some. It’s a controversial LinkedIn subject! I have never actually experienced this myself - only professional contacts (not sure whether to be disappointed or not )
Definitely don’t be worried about connecting with people. My direct connection requests are usually to those people I’ve met at face to face networking, events, peers and/or current clients. Also, when I send a request I would usually add a message to the connection request - it just makes it more personal. You can say something about where you met there or why you’re connecting.
I would suggest taking a look around some other profiles (be mindful that people will be notified when you look at their profile but again, don’t let this put you off…have a look at mind if you want ) You may find that you receive some connection requests from those people! Make sure your profile is up to date shows the right thing - especially in the Headline as this is the part people will mainly see.
Be active - until you feel ready to post things yourself yet, take an interest in what other people are posting and build up the confidence to comment on it. I find LinkedIn results come more from being active than direct sales posts.
Finally, be yourself. Being professional doesn’t mean you can’t show people who you are - when you post about something share your genuine thoughts about it. I find I get more of a response from people who can resonate with your view. You will come across a number of posts which are controversial and are often posted to get a reaction…not my thing but it gives them air time and they get noticed.