First time designers and those just starting out the best to get your name out there in the community is:
(free and cheap ways of marketing your designs)
Create a design that has a 'wow' factor, even if it doesn't sell, thats okay its just the crazy, out-there design thats going to help get you noticed and create a name for yourself.
Call or email you local news broadcaster to let them know your out there doing you thing (designing) and you have a great piece they may be interested in doing a story.
Call or email local community newspapers and the main newspaper in your city and state, telling them im here and I have a great design.
Design & Home Interior Design Magazines are great too, they need you to fill pages and you need them to get you name out there. At the start, first few pages they have the credits of who the editor and other people who work for the magazine (these magazine based here in Australia ask for designers to send in work, ie photos of designs and information on yourself) email them and send photos of your designs.
Markets are good too, (Australian based) markets cost only $30 for the day, with a tent along side other arts & crafts shall people. Take down a piece of furniture with you and any business cards etc.. with you and hand out to people walking past.
When starting out, it's good to say that you can and will do custom work, as this opens up your target market (you can do this when just starting out)
Have a website, and become a link to search words used in google (go to Google Adword) for around $30 per month you have a link to as many search words that you like. Say I wanted to search designer furniture, your ad will appear on the right hand side on the computer screen with other links. Choose as many words as you want, like, furniture designer, designer, modern furniture, designer furniture etc...
Head out to design industry events in your local area and/or city. And start to get your name out there.
Design Comp's are a great way for getting noticed, meet the guide lines of the comp, and send in photos, via email or post.
And finally, if anyone asks what you do for a living, always say that your a furniture designer / product design etc... Whatever your doing say that you doing, and add a little sugar coating if need be.
Good Luck! Information above is designed for those in the design industry, along the lines of a furniture designer, product designer, industrial designer etc... Remember you can read all the books in the world on how to market yourself and what you do, but the best piece of advice is to use common sense!